Parko, the Berea Police Department’s K9 unit, had it made last week. He was treated to cake and ice cream and a lot of petting as police and city staffers bid him a happy retirement.

Parko has been with the Berea Police Department for approximately eight years, four and a half of which have been with the current K9 officer, Jeff Harness. During his tenure with the Berea Police Department, the Dutch shepherd has been a part of hundreds of cases, including many drug searches.

Parko has adhered to a pretty regimented diet, but last Wednesday, that diet was forgotten as he enjoyed his farewell treats. As is customary with retiring officers, Chief David Gregory presented Parko with a badge commemorating his service, and he was adorned with a bandana that proclaimed, “I’m Retired.”

Parko’s last official day was the July 4 Celebration at Berea City Park, but local residents haven’t seen the last of him. He’ll appear at the upcoming First Responder’s Camp, and he’ll be the guest of honor at a cookout one Berea neighborhood is throwing this month.

Berea K9 Officer Jeff Harness said Parko’s retirement represents both an ending and a beginning.

“It’s bitter sweet. Even though I’m getting another dog, it’s still bitter sweet,” Harness said.

Harness will help choose a new dog for the department, and that dog will be trained and will likely be on duty this fall.

In the meantime, Chief Gregory said Parko will be missed.

“It’s going to be a major loss because of how well he gets along with others, his temperament, and how well-behaved he is,” Gregory said. “He’s been with us eight and a half years and he is going to be truly missed. He’s been a great asset, not just for finding narcotics, but he’s been on some searches, tracking people and building searches. He’s going to be hard to replace.”

Many people are curious about what will happen to Parko when he’s no longer officially with the police department. The good news is Parko will spend his retirement with Harness.

“The city approved him to live with me,” Harness said.

Along with city department heads and staffers, Mayor Bruce Fraley and City Administrator Randy Stone attended the retirement party, after which Fraley noted that Parko was part of an important effort in the community.

“One thing I’ve learned since becoming mayor is how critical canines are in drug enforcement efforts,” Fraley said. “It may seem odd that a canine would be part of a team with people, but Parko was part of that team effort.”

Fraley added that while Parko will be missed, he looks forward to meeting the next K9 unit.

“We know that all good things come to an end, and we’ll welcome the new K9,” Fraley said.

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