ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - St. Paul police K-9 units make countless busts on the streets of the city. In fact they're so good they've been recognized with national awards.
On Monday, they got their own museum-quality display right in their back yard, now open to the public in the main lobby of St. Paul police headquarters. But this isn't just about honoring the accomplishments -- it's also about preserving their story.
Behind the glass display case, there is an important moment frozen in time. The display was recreated by volunteers from the St. Paul Historical Society to honor the original K-9 unit and also K-9 officers today.
Paul Johnson is a retired forensic artist who positioned the mannequins and did the paint job. But behind all the pomp and circumstance of the unveiling ceremony, there are the pioneers.
“I miss the dogs. That was a real good partner to have,” 93-year-old Ed Buehlman, retired St. Paul Police K-9 officer, said.
Buehlman and 84-year-old Larry McDonald are two of the last surviving members of the very first St. Paul Police K-9 unit in 1958.
These dogs are regularly put in harm’s way, going after the bad guys, sniffing out narcotics and explosives -- some, even dying in the line of duty. However, during the early days, Buehlman says office politics temporarily ended the program.
“A lot of things got changed around. It was the old ideas, and the new ideas stopped,” he said.
The unit was eventually brought back -- and today, remains a vital part of the job. Along with the display dedication, Buehlman and McDonald received the Chief's medal, one of the highest honors given out by the department.
Both men are part of an important legacy, praising the good police work of man and his best friend. They reminisced about the good old days
“We were on a stakeout, Larry looks at me and says what the hell would we do if we had to jump a fence. We need a dog,” they laughed.
St. Paul's K-9 unit is considered the second oldest behind Baltimore’s. And this isn't the only museum quality display; there are several others at police headquarters free to the public.