Oakley with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) is a “Single Purpose” K9. He and his handler Deputy Ken Paulison spend their days at Elkhorn North High School. Oakley and Deputy Paulison assist the teachers and the administration as needed at the school. Deputy Paulison handles any criminal needs on campus but states that most situations can be handled by the administration. As a team, they play an even more important role, one that Oakley doesn’t even know about, and that is “therapy dog” team for the staff and students. It is not uncommon to see a crowd of students sitting on the floor around Oakley, with him lying on his back or side taking in all the attention. Deputy Pauilson loves to see the students smile and laugh while interacting with Oakley
Unique L.E. Team Spends Days & Some Nights in High School.
Deputy Paulison and Oakley have an office that allows them to see students entering the building. They have an open-door policy where students/staff are welcome to stop by their office anytime. Deputy Paulison says he has four students at a minimum that stop by each day. Some want to talk, some ask questions or talk about a concern, and some come for the snack drawer that is always stocked with candy and other treats. Oakley can be seen trying to get a little snack too. Deputy Paulison says the students are very good to Oakley and sometimes give him too many treats. He has been known to go home with an upset stomach – possibly from too many beef sticks!
Oakley who will be four years old on August 1, 2022, was assigned to Deputy Paulison in August of 2021. Since then they have been together almost every minute. Oakley lives with the Paulison family including two other dogs. There was concern that the dogs may not get along but the opposite has been the case. Finley, a one-year-old Golden Retriever and Oakley are best friends. The ruler of the house is Bailey, a 12-year-old Corgi Yorkie. Oakley is a Belgian Malinois and Shepard mix and he weighs 80 pounds. He eats his meals daily with Finely and Bailey at 6am and 6pm.
Oakley is a Single Purpose K9 who only uses his nose.
Most police and military K9s are dual-purpose K9s, meaning they serve in the role of Handler Protector and also use their nose for a variety of needs such as search and rescue of people, drugs, discharged firearms, bomb threats, and various other duties depending on their location and circumstances. Oakley is a Single Purpose K9 who only uses his nose.
From a young age, while being trained in Florida, the trainers saw something special in Oakley. He was very social and had great skills with his nose. He did not show the fierceness necessary to become a handler protector but his personality and sense of smell were a good combination in proceeding as a single purpose K9.
Oakley is the only K9 that serves in this capacity in NE or IA. Oakley is unique and fulfills a much-needed role. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Wayne Hudson, Captain Will Niemack, and Sergeant Eric Olson, all had a vision for a team just like Deputy Pauilson and Oakley, a single purpose K9 and a School Resource Officer (SRO). A team that would enhance the safety of a school and also assist with the mental health of those in attendance. Due to a grant from an anonymous donor to the First Responders Foundation, their vision became reality. The First Responders Foundation was able to purchase Oakley for the DCSO. The grant was for $20,000 and was used to purchase Oakely and will pay for food, supplies, and medical care for six years.
Deputy Paulison serves as a School Resource Officer (SRO) at Elkhorn North HS. His role is exactly like that of any other SRO. SRO’s work with school administrators, teachers, parents, and students to establish and maintain security procedures that emphasize safety and crime prevention. Elkhorn Public Schools have SRO’s in all high schools and middle schools. The only difference with Deputy Paulison is that he has a permanent shadow – Oakley – who is always at his side.
When he works he is commanded to begin smelling.
Oakley only works when he is told to do so. He spends a good portion of his day laying on the office floor napping in the sun or walking the halls of the school and interacting with the students. When he works he is commanded to begin smelling. When he finds the target of concern, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine he is a passive indicator. This means Oakley will sit and stare toward what he has discovered. If Oakley is in a training scenario, he will be provided a primary or secondary reward for finding the item. In a real-world situation, Oakley will be removed from the area with a verbal reward. After Oakley is removed the area is searched to see what he has found.
Deputy Paulison and Oakley train formally at least once a week. There are a total of six K9s at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The dogs and the handlers train together every Monday in order to be ready anytime needed. They train at numerous locations with various scenarios to expose the K9s and handlers to different situations.
Oakley understands English and German.
Oakley understands English and German and gets his commands in German from Deputy Paulison. Not hearing those words often makes it easier for him to follow and it makes it harder for the wrong person to command him to do something. Both K9s and Handlers must be certified every year and for each purpose. Deputy Paulison and Oakley just completed the state of Nebraska Police Dog Narcotics Certification for the year in April 2022.
Deputy Paulison has been in law enforcement for 29 years. His first five years in the field were with the Elkhorn Police Department before they became part of the Omaha Police Department. He has been with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years. Along with serving as an SRO and K9 Handler, he has also worked the Road Patrol, Court Services Bureau, Criminal Investigations, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Accident Reconstruction Team, and Nautical Services.
Oakley was a big hit at Prom.
Oakley was a big hit at Prom this year. He is a hit wherever he goes in the school. Follow Oakley around and you will see he draws a crowd and gets a lot of love from everyone, students, staff, and visitors. He is a positive ambassador for law enforcement and is therapy to all who meet him.
Every morning Oakley waits near the door to go to school. As soon as he hears the word “Ready” he runs to the cruiser. He is happy at school and all at school are happy to have him.
Would you like to learn more and see more pictures of Oakley? Follow Oakley on Twitter. He has his very own Twitter handle: DCSOK9Oakley.