K-9 Bruce hangs up his badge

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A special member of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office is retiring with his full tenure after working countless cases and making a difference in the community.

K-9 Bruce retired from the force to his handler, senior deputy Justin Vaughan, at the Wilson County Board of Commissioners meeting earlier this week.

Bruce, who has been with the sheriff’s office since 2011, was the first canine to protect Wilson County residents and assist law enforcement, officials said.

“Bruce has been miraculous in locating missing children, Alzheimer’s patients, finding hidden articles, demonstrations for schools, events as well as locating drugs, officer protection and apprehending dangerous offenders,” said Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard.

One of Bruce’s last assignments was when he apprehended suspects in connection to the shooting of N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Daniel Harrell on Jan. 14. Bruce and his handler, Vaughan, recently received a United States Police Canine Association regional award for their outstanding work in connection to that case.

“He is a wonderful dog,” Woodard told commissioners. “He is the best of the best and obtained several first-place awards in the nationals. Bruce is truly a part of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office family and will truly be missed by all of us.”

Woodard, commissioners and the audience had a little fun Monday night when Bruce arrived at the meeting to be honored.

“Bruce, are you ready to retire?” Woodard asked the K-9 front of commissioners.

Bruce, who was on command with his handler, paused for a few seconds. Then, he barked.