SIOUX FALLS (AP) – A siren rang over the Minnehaha County and Sioux Falls Police, Fire, and EMS scanner at 3:03 p.m. on a recent Wednesday.
"Metro to all units. K-9 Rio has faithfully returned to his handler Officer Shannon Irish, members of the Sioux Falls Police Department and the community with pride and integrity. In recognition of his years of dedicated service, we'd like to wish him the best and a well-deserved retirement. 10-7 at 15:03 hours June 6, 2019. Metro clear."
After more than seven years on the force, K-9 Rio hung up his vest at his retirement ceremony at the Sioux Falls Law Enforcement Center. Rio's ownership was transferred over to his handler officer Shannon Irish during the ceremony, the Argus Leader reported.
"Rio has done a great job of keeping Officer Irish, other law enforcement officers, citizens and even suspects safe by preventing injury or further injury," Assistant Chief Kyle Hoekstra said. "Today, with over seven years of service, we congratulate Rio on his much-deserved retirement."
Starting in 2012, Rio joined the Sioux Falls Police Department, going through 16 weeks of dual purpose drug and patrol training. Every week since then, he has done a minimum of eight hours of training per week.
In his first shift, Rio's presence alone convinced an assault suspect, armed with a pipe, to surrender. Two week later, Rio tracked an armed robbery suspect hiding in a dumpster.
Over the years, he has assisted in various locating of illegal drugs and firearms, and various presentations for children and adults in the community.
Not only have Rio and Irish enjoyed their time together, but other members of the Sioux Falls Police Department have enjoyed watching him grow over the years.
"I've really just enjoyed watching him work on patrol and train," Lt. David McIntire said. "He's always been a great dog and it's always been nice to know that there is someone in the field that is working out for you."
As Rio heads into retirement and another pup joins the K-9 unit, members of the Sioux Falls Police Department will miss Rio and the relationships that he's made with them.
"We've obviously got a new dog in the pack and training out on the street, but you get to know every one of them," McIntire said. "Anybody who has had an animal knows that not having them around is a loss."