Nacogdoches Co. Sheriff's Office confirms death of K9 officer

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - On Thursday, the Nacogdoches Sheriff's Office confirmed that Richtor, the K9 officer, died at the home of Chief Deputy Stephen Godfrey two months ago. It was later determined that the dog died of a heart attack.

Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges said the NCSO kept the matter quiet because the dog had become like a member of Godfrey's family.

According to a press release, Richtor, a German shepherd, was born in the Czech Republic in 2005, and he was imported by Adlerhorst International. After he was flown from Riverside, California, Richtor met Godfrey at DFW Airport.

At the time, Godfrey was working for the Nacogdoches Police Department. He was assigned to narcotics interdiction along U.S. Highway 59. The press release said he needed a partner for protection and for locating contraband when it was stashed in hidden compartments.

"Richtor was selected from literally hundreds of police K9's but since Godfrey had handled a K9 for the majority of his 20 year career Godfrey knew what he was looking for in a K9," the press release said. "Without a doubt, Richtor fit the model of the K9 Godfrey desired. "

Richtor had never been inside a home before he was introduced to Godfrey, the press release stated. The dog literally pranced when he walked on carpet for the first time. The KP officer became like part of Godfrey's family, but he knew it was time for business when he loaded up for work.

Godfrey and Richtor were certified with Alderhorst International and passed with very high marks, according to the press release even though Texas K9 officers are not required to be certified.

Godfrey and Richtor started patrolling together in 2007. The press release stated that on numerous occasions when the pair made drug busts and seized narcotics, suspects admitted they might have tried to attack Godfrey if Richtor hadn't been there.

"Godfrey and Richtor made substantial seizures of narcotics as a team totaling thousands of pounds of marijuana, hundreds of pounds of cocaine, and hundreds of pounds of other illegal narcotics," the press release stated. "The single largest seizure of marijuana made by the team was 868 pounds. The largest single cocaine seizure was 88 pounds, and the single largest currency seizure was $180,000 in United States currency."

The press release stated that Richtor was the first K9 officer in Texas to be used to search the exterior of a residence to establish of probable cause for a search warrant. When Richtor hit on the presence of narcotics, it allowed a search warrant to be issued by a federal court, and it resulted in a "substantial" seizure of narcotics and currency.

Godfrey left the Nacogdoches Police Department to serve as chief deputy when Bridges was elected sheriff in January 2013. When Nacogdoches County District Attorney Nicole Lostrocco heard that the K9 team was going to be split up, she purchased Richtor from the NPD and assigned him to Bridges' constable's office until he took office as sheriff in January 2013.

"The district attorney was aware of every case the team had made and began to negotiate to keep the team together," the press release stated.

As a result, Godfrey was allowed to remain the caretaker and handler for Richtor. They were on an on-call basis for all of Nacogdoches County.

"Richtor's death has left a huge void in the Godfrey family," the press release stated. "Godfrey stated that the night that Richtor was buried, his 9 year old son buried his favorite baseball beside K9 Richtor."

According to a previous East Texas News story, before he resigned in June 2012, Godfrey had been serving as the chief officer of the Nacogdoches Police Department's K9 unit since 2009, when the NPD received a grant for its drug interdiction program.

At the time, Nacogdoches Police Chief Jim Sevey said that Godfrey was put in charge of the program and given Richtor with the understanding that he could resign from the department after three year if another law enforcement agency would purchase Richtor for $10,000. Sevey said the dog was listed on the department's roster and was owned by the city.

Sevey said he lost a good officer when Godfrey left the NPD.

"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 Richtor," Sevey said.

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