Iredell County Sheriff’s lieutenant, canine to retire

Donna Swaisgood

When Lieutenant Gary Simpson opened the back door of the police car, Abby eagerly jumped inside, ready to head to work.

It’s a routine they’ve been practicing for nearly a decade, but they’re soon calling it a career.

Simpson, a member of the Iredel County Sheriff’s Office’s Interstate Detective Enforcement Team (ICE), and Abby, the smallest but most productive member of the Canine Corps, are retiring at the end of January.

Handlers and dogs rarely retire at the same time, said Iredel Sheriff Darren Campbell.

A smaller version of a black Labrador Retriever, Abby joined the Sheriff’s Department in 2014 and was paired with Simpson, who has experience as a dog handler. His previous partner was Cass, a Belgian Malinois, and the difference between the two breeds was a big adjustment for Simpson.

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“I had one (Marinoa) who was very nervous and one who was so laid back and gentle that she was in the back of the car and didn’t realize she was there,” Simpson said.

Abby has provided a valuable service to him as well as to the citizens of Iredel County, he said. He said it’s hard to explain the value of being with a partner every day, but it comes down to the bond between dogs and handlers. , we train together, we play together on holidays,” he said. “It’s very rewarding.”

Campbell said the addition of Abby was a change in direction for the sheriff’s office, which traditionally used multi-function malinois. She is a passive guard dog and was trained solely for drug detection. Passive Her alert dog lets her handler know she’s spotted something.

At 42 pounds, about half the size of a traditional lab, Simpson said his petite stature also helped him get the job done. She was able to fit into spaces that couldn’t accommodate larger breeds. I did not experience the hip problems that tend to plague larger breeds.

During her years of riding with Simpson, Abby has sniffed out millions of dollars in drugs. “She’s responsible for over $4 million on drugs alone,” Simpson said.

Abby’s contributions to the sheriff’s office aren’t just about sniffing drugs. She’s also a great publicist.

Because of her docile and gentle personality, she was a hit when Simpson took her to schools, day care centers, and nursing homes. said Simpson. “They all love dogs.”

Abby came to the sheriff’s office thanks to a $9,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security. She was purchased and trained by Jason Perguson of Highland Kanin in Harmony.

Abby will retire after about ten years of service, while Simpson’s career spans nearly three times as long, at least in human years.

He said it was in his blood to be a law enforcement officer. His grandfather was a military policeman and dog trainer. Simpson said he received nothing but encouragement when he discussed the idea with his grandfather: “He said you can’t go wrong in law enforcement. There’s always a need,” Simpson said. Told.

So after earning a certificate in basic law enforcement training in 1995, Simpson began working for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. He has worked in nearly every aspect of the department, from patrols to narcotics investigations to patrol superintendents.

About nine years into his career, Simpson was recruited by the Iredel County Sheriff’s Office to join the Interstate Criminal Enforcement Team. “It’s the same thing I used to do at Forsythe,” he said, so he decided to take the jump.

It’s a move I’m glad he made. “I felt comfortable from the beginning,” he said. “It felt like home.”

After years of patrolling the Iredel interstate highways looking for possible drug dealers, Simpson said, ICE seized millions of dollars worth of drugs. The state’s second-oldest ICE unit is exploring similar efforts among other law enforcement agencies.

Their efforts are recognized and sought after by other institutions for training. Campbell said members of the ICE team have trained officers from various states on the East Coast.

During that time, they were responsible for seizing drugs and cash that helped pay for everything from police cars to Simpson’s two dog partners. It is said that there is

And in Abby’s case, she and Simpson, as well as other members of the ICE unit, carried out a traffic stop linked to international terrorist activity. A stolen computer was found that was being sold to

According to Simpson, they have also made less dramatic but equally important arrests. I handed it over to hang on,” he said.

Soon it will come to an end.

Simpson and Abby will retire at the same time, so she will remain his partner, but with very different abilities. “She’s going to be my pet.”

She goes home with Simpson. Her veterinarian has written Abby’s retirement letter and, as is usual with dog retirements, she will be offered Simpson for $1.

Campbell said he will miss both Simpson and Abby as colleagues and for the service they provided to the citizens of Iredel County.

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