LAVERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Fearless, loyal, trustworthy, traits that describe K-9 Officer Sjaak of the La Vergne Police Department.
In November of 2020 he was shot three times as the patrol car he was in pulled out of the police station. His partner and handler Officer Justin Darby and other officers pursued the suspect to this residential complex.
The suspect got out of his car and fired at officers and they fired back, hitting the suspect who did not survive. Following several emergency surgeries, K9 Officer Sjaak passed away the next day. Officer Darby was not injured.
“I’d say he went to work every day just excited to be there. I’d put a tracking harness on him he’s start jumping up and down, it was probably one of his most favorite things to do was track.,” said Officer Darby.
And that keen sense of smell to track led K9 Officer Sjaak to hundreds of pounds of drugs and hundreds of weapons during his career. He also saved lives as he not only found missing persons and children, but felons.
“He saved not only my life but Sgt. Eubank. It was a tracking situation, a dangerous armed felon. When we came around that corner you know Sjaak had picked up his odor and gone around the corner and immediately apprehended the suspect by the arm, in turn, made the suspect drop his weapon, so there is no doubt in my mind he saved our lives that day.”
“He always had my back and always made me feel really, really secure and confident,” said Officer Darby.
But K9 Officer Sjaak had a softer side off duty.
“He was a big old teddy bear. Played fetch in the backyard, wrestled with my dogs at home, and he’d play with my son and my son would act like he was Sjaak’s handler and do all the tricks with his friends and he was, he was just a member of the family.”
K9 Officer Sjaak’s memorial service brought more than just the community and law enforcement departments together as a family to honor him.
“We had people from Australia and Europe sending stuff to him and it was overwhelming. I’d like to say thank you. I mean the cards, you know the gifts, the food, the donations, everything was, was, I can’t even tell you how much it’s appreciated uh just how much it means to not only me but to the department,” said Officer Darby.
“K9 Sjaak is a hero because he put his life on the line for us on a daily basis. He served as a supplement to the police department that kept officers safe and of course a whole lot faster than humans so he was able to do things we just couldn’t do. So, he is a hero he sacrificed his life for us,” said LaVergne Police Department Interim Chief Chip Davis.
So, we honor La Vergne Police Department K9 Officer Sjaak as our News 2 Gives Back Hometown Hero for the month of March, presented by Tristar Health, for his dedication to his partner Officer Justin Darby and for the steadfast commitment to serve and protect the citizens of La Vergne.