The Monroe Police Department honored retiring K9 Joker with his partner, Officer Jake Carswell, on Tuesday, May 13, at Monroe City Hall.
The 95-pound German shepherd, whose full name is Joker von Haus Katernberg, has been with the Monroe Police Department for a total of nine years, and has worked with Officer Carswell since 2007. Chief Tim Quenzer honored the pair who have worked together to apprehend countless suspects in Monroe and outlying areas such as Sultan and Lake Stevens.
“Joker was often called upon to track suspects in burglaries, domestic violence cases and assaults,” said Quenzer. “He also assisted the Monroe SERT team on many high-risk entries.”
The Monroe Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) is deployed when responding to critical incidents such as hostage situations or barricaded suspects.
Chief Quenzer recounted a few of Officer Carswell and Joker’s recent apprehensions. Joker has located suspects hiding underneath pickup trucks, inside storage compartments, in parks, back yards, and underneath logs in wooded areas. Often suspects have become eager to surrender once they heard Joker’s bark and realized that the K9 officer was after them.
“As you can see, a tracking dog is a very valuable tool to this department,” said Quenzer. He explained that Joker was truly a part of the Monroe community, often participating in events such as National Night Out and making appearances for the Monroe School District and other local organizations.
“The city of Monroe and surrounding areas have benefited greatly from Joker’s efforts and we will miss K9 Joker and his true professionalism and drive,” said Quenzer. “He will spend his retirement at the home of Officer Carswell and his family.”
Officer Carswell became a certified K9 officer through the Bellevue Police Department where he worked with Joker for 400-hours, the required amount of training time for a dog to become eligible to serve as a tracking dog. At the end of the 400 hours, they successfully tested in front of two K9 master trainers.
“It’s a pass fail thing,” explained Officer Carswell.
Carswell has spent the last seven years working 12-hour shifts with Joker, sometimes being called in from home on their days off to track suspects.
“I probably spend more time with him than my wife,” said Carswell.
Carswell, who will return to patrol work, has enjoyed working with Joker and while he is happy that Joker will now get to relax and take it easy, he is heavy-hearted about losing his partner.
“It’s bittersweet because it’s a good gig and it’s ending,” said Carswell. “I had a good run.”
Officer Carswell and Joker made an impact on those whose lives they touched.
Paws With No Flaws trainer Anna Bolick had the opportunity to work with Officer Carswell and Joker, participating in both a ride-along and a training session in which she was allowed to play the “suspect” during a practice building search.
“As a ‘dog person’ it is a very noticeable connection and teamwork between them,” said Bolick. “To become a police dog and to keep the title, these dogs have to go through a long process and very few pass.”
Bolick wore a protective “bite sleeve” during the training session. She described Joker’s level of work ethic as remarkably high.
“His amazing drive to work, follow his nose and to stay on task is a sight to be seen,” said Bolick.
Monroe resident Douglas Knox has been acquainted with Officer Carswell for many years. He was happy for his friend when he became a K9 Officer.
“I knew he always wanted to join the K9 side of Monroe PD,” said Knox. “As a friend I was happy and proud of him when that became reality.”
Knox had always wanted to go on a ride-along with a K9 unit. When Officer Carswell started working with Joker, he thought it was the perfect opportunity. He passed a background check at the Monroe Police Department, and the ride-along was scheduled.
Knox enjoyed watching the two interact.
“They made a great team,” said Knox. “It seemed to me that when Officer Carswell was out of the car doing a traffic stop or talking to a citizen of Monroe, Joker was always watching him and making sure he was ok…That no one was trying anything.”
Knox has some insight into the relationships that can develop between humans and dogs; his mother Kathy Knox raises puppies for Canine Companions for Independence, and is also a “comfort dog” handler. Kathy Knox and her registered service dog, a Labrador retriever named Ocho, recently worked with students at Darrington Elementary.
“It is amazing the bond that forms between the dog and the handler,” said Knox.
Officer Carswell’s wife Chrissy has enjoyed seeing that bond develop as she has watched her husband’s partnership with Joker flourish over the years.
“I am sad to see this journey end for my husband as he and Joker spent countless hours protecting us all,” said Chrissy Carswell. “I am so grateful he was able to have this opportunity.”
She is happy that Joker will be staying with them in his retirement.
“He gets to relax a bit and enjoy the ‘old man’ stage of his wonderful life,” said Chrissy Carswell. “With tears I praise my husband in all that he has done with Joker. I am and forever will be in awe of him and his devotion to everything he puts his heart towards.”
“They were such an amazing team for so long,” said Carswell.
The department will be introducing their new tracking dog, whose name is Nuke, with his handler sometime within the next month or so.