ST. ALBANS CITY — Lt. Jason Wetherby, of the St. Albans Police Dept., doesn’t know how these things keep happening to him.
That might sound like something Bruce Willis would mutter in a Die Hard sequel while outwitting terrorists. Maybe Wetherby is referring to a high-speed chase, a major drug bust, a shootout. But if that’s the case, why is he shifting shyly?
Because he’s talking about community recognition. The Franklin County Regional Chamber of Commerce plans to award Wetherby its Timothy Bovat Civic Involvement Award this Thursday, Jan. 17, honoring “an individual or group whose investment in the local community goes beyond the norm.”
Wetherby is the first SAPD officer in the award’s 19 years. And don’t misunderstand — he appreciates it.
“There’s just so many people in the community that do good things,” Wetherby said.
And not just people — that is, humans. The chamber is also presenting the award to Wetherby’s canine partner, Wyatt, a trained K9 detection dog. The Vermont Police Canine Association named Wetherby and Wyatt its K9 Detection Team of the Year in 2016.
Lisamarie Charlseworth, the chamber manager, confirmed Wyatt is also the first canine recipient of the Bovat award in history.
The Messenger was not able to interview Wyatt due to limits in human-canine communication. Wetherby filled in the blanks. He should know: Wetherby and Wyatt have worked side by side since 2009.
Back then, Wetherby was Bellows Free Academy St. Albans’ school resource officer.
“There was talk about putting a dog in the high school,” Wetherby said. As Wetherby remembered it, Chief Gary Taylor had the idea of putting a drug dog in the school to combat runoff from the community’s broader drug issues.
“So that was obviously new,” Wetherby said. “Especially for this area.”
Not too new for Wetherby, though. He remembered thinking, “Sure, I’d like to take on that challenge. Why not?”
So the SAPD purchased Wyatt, a Labrador Retriever, with grant funds. Wetherby named him after Wyatt Earp. While the two were in K9 training, Wyatt partnered with another K9-in-training named “Doc,” as in Doc Holliday.
Wetherby and Wyatt looked over BFA for four years, then spent a year at the St. Albans Town Educational Center. Wetherby said having Wyatt “built huge relationships” in both schools.
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