Nacogdoches drug officer resigns; K9's future uncertain

Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Nacogdoches Police drug interdiction program will be changing leaders after the K-9 Unit officer turned in his resignation on Thursday.

Stephen Godfrey has been the chief officer of the K-9 unit since 2009, when the department received a grant for the drug interdiction program. Since that time, Godfrey and his German shepherd, Rhictor, have been responsible for dozens of drug seizures in Nacogdoches.

"He's to keep me safe. So, he's almost just like having your best partner you could have," said Stephen Godfrey, former Nacogdoches Police Department K-9 Unit officer.

Police Chief Jim Sevey said Godfrey was put on the program and given Rhictor with the agreement that after three years, he could leave the department with the option of another law-enforcement agency purchasing Rhictor for $10,000. Godfrey cannot just buy the dog without it being used for law-enforcement purposes, Sevey said. Sevey also says the dog is listed on the police department's roster and is owned by the city through a federal grant.

"In a memo that I wrote to the entire department, I told everyone in this building that Rhictor is a member of this department and to be treated as such," said Sevey.

For now, Godfrey's partner is being held at a local kennel waiting to be assigned a new handler.

"I want him out of that kennel as quickly as possible. And, we knew when Steven resigned that we were going to have to fill that position. So, we began when he turned his resignation in," said Sevey.

On Godfrey's Facebook page, his wife posted a note about how the dog has become a part of the family and that it is a big surprise they will not be able to keep Rhictor.

"I hope each one of you who were involved in ripping this child/sibling out of our lives is happy," the note states. "I know each one of you have kid of your own as well as siblings. That Is what Rhictor was to our family......FAMILY!!!!!"
Godfrey has actively campaigned for Constable Jason Bridges to be elected sheriff. Bridges will take the office in January but could not comment on whether he was planning on hiring Godfrey. He did say a possible hiring is not contingent upon Godfrey having a K-9.
Rhictor underwent a wellness check-up and will remain at the kennel until Tuesday, when he is introduced to a new trainer. Sevey said if that happens, another law-enforcement agency will no longer have the option of purchasing Rhictor for law-enforcement purposes.
Sevey says with Godfrey's leaving, he lost a good officer.

"He has a lot of training, a lot of experience, and I hated to see him go. And, I hated to see him separated from Rhictor," said Sevey.

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