Most people embark on a career with an eye towards advancement, but one police officer decided that loyalty to his partner was worth more than a promotion. Martinsburg, W.Va. Police Department posted on their Facebook page on Friday that Patrolman Chris Phelps has given up his promotion to Sergeant in order to retain his partnership with canine Argos.
The Journal reported that new department policy scheduled to go into effect on Monday, May 1 dictated that officers in a supervisory position would no longer be allowed to be dog handlers, so candidates to be the Belgian Malinois’ new partner were being solicited from elsewhere within the department. Phelps, a 16-year veteran of the force, wasn’t ready to hand Argos over just yet, and opted instead to give up the rank of Sergeant in order to be in the lineup from where the drug dog’s new handler would be chosen.
Police Chief Maury Richards mandated the policy change, stating “an effective police supervisor’s primary function has to be to give a 100 percent effort to lead, train, guide, and direct other police officers to accomplish the mission of the department. An effective canine handler has to give a 100 percent effort to utilize the canine proactively whenever possible; assisting other officers, engaging with the community, and going after drug dealers. Having an officer who is a supervisor but also managing the duties of a canine handler is an inefficient use of police resources that the citizens of Martinsburg simply can’t afford.”
Since being drug certified almost a year ago, the canine had recovered only small amounts of drugs, and Phelps supported Chief Richards’ change in policy as being in the best interest of the department and the city. With the support of his family, however, he took it a step further and suggested that stepping down from Sergeant and retaining his dog handler status would be the best use of resources, as he and Argos could focus 100% of their duties on their drug detection training.