Retiring OCPD K-9 Recognized

Retiring OCPD K-9 Recognized
Pictured, from left, are OCPD Corporal Michael Kelly, K-9 Koda, Chief Ross Buzzuro and Mayor Rick Meehan. Photo by Bill Funkhouser

OCEAN CITY — The Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) has seen the retirement of several long-time, high-ranking officers over the last year but this week celebrated an officer of the four-legged variety.

OCPD K-9 Koda was feted this week with a retirement ceremony at City Hall after seven years on the job in the resort. Koda, a German shepherd from Slovakia, came to the department in 2012 and joined his handler Corporal Michael Kelly in a four-week intensive training program. Nearly seven years and over 600 deployments later, Koda is retiring and will live out his days with Kelly and his family.

Mayor Rick Meehan, who presides over retirement ceremonies, outlined many of Koda’s accomplishments over the last several years with the OCPD. For example, Koda was deployed and assisted his fellow officers 626 times and was responsible for thousands of dollars seized and forfeited. He was given credit for 100 arrests and helped make six apprehensions.

“This one is a little different,” said Meehan. “Koda helped seize large quantities of drugs and helped locate illegal weapons. He assisted patrol with tracking of suspects, tactical deployments such as crowd control and search warrant perimeters, scanned hundreds of vehicles and performed building searches of suspected break-ins. He did all of this with just one thing focused on his mind, his toy.”

OCPD Chief Ross Buzzuro somewhat tongue-in-cheek praised Koda for his service and for being one of his most dependable officers.

“Congrats to Koda for serving this community for six and a half years,” he said. “He never called in sick. He never chose not to chase someone.”

On a more serious note, the chief reminded those in attendance just how dangerous the life of a K-9 police dog can be.

“The life of a police dog is very dangerous,” he said. “They often lose their life in the line of duty. There were 24 this year alone compared to 100 police officers.”

For his part, Kelly said the response for Koda’s retirement was overwhelming.

“He is enjoying his retirement,” he said. “I thank the Town of Ocean City for allowing the handlers to keep their dogs when they retire because not a lot of jurisdictions do that. My goal with Koda was always to be on the front line with the men and women of this department and to help save my fellow officers from harm and we were able to do that. We care about keeping drugs out of the community and keeping the community safe.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.