Desoto County News

DA’s office adds K9 for Crisis Response Intervention, Victim Assistance and Community Engagement

Photo: New District Attorney’s Office K9 Bruce (Courtesy photo)

The DeSoto County District Attorney’s Office is welcoming K9 Bruce as its newest member to the team, a Facility / Crisis Response K9. 

Bruce is a specifically bred and trained canine that will have several duties in his role to help provide comfort for victims, especially children, and peer support for first responders in other agencies, and to the public in the aftermath of a critical incident or disaster. 

“The mental health of our first responders and victims of crimes is of the utmost importance,” said District Attorney Matthew Barton.  “We are thrilled to have Bruce join our department as yet another tool to assist us in our mission to keep DeSoto County safe and better serve the community.”

Bruce’s training is specialized for the first responder world – ready to respond with little to no notice, providing a calm, comforting presence in the face of intense emotion, grief, and even chaos.  Once Bruce completes his training in September, he and his handler will be capable of serving at many levels, from providing peer support for other first responders during debriefings, to responding to incidents at schools or other public events or facilities, aiding the public in the aftermath of a casualty or disaster. 

K9 Bruce with the District Attorney’s Office (Courtesy photo)

In addition to Crisis Response, Bruce will aid victims, especially children, to cope with their experiences and testify confidently in court or when statements are needed for prosecuting dangerous criminals. 

The District Attorney’s Office was able to acquire Bruce through Asset Forfeiture funds that were seized through an illegal enterprise, at no cost to the taxpayer. This new program is a first for the District Attorney’s Office and DeSoto County.  

“We are honored to partner with the Desoto County District Attorney’s office on the implementation of this new program. This K9 team will be a huge asset to the District Attorney’s office as well as to the communities that they serve.” Justin Smith, Director, Crisis Canines of the Midlands, a non-profit who facilitates and coordinates the implementation of Crisis Response Therapy Dog teams in First Responder agencies.

Bruce will remain in Colfax, Iowa with Crisis Canines of the Midlands until he graduates in September and becomes nationally certified. Then he will be paired with a permanent handler in the office who will also be trained as part of our new K9 Unit. The duo will attend random roll-call trainings and provide education opportunities to schools.