Wayne Godfrey '06 and his Best Friend

It's a story as new as a boy with his first puppy, and as old as the human experience: the bond between people and dogs. In this case, the person is SVC alum and Vermont State Police Canine Officer Wayne Godfrey, and the dog is his extraordinary German shepherd partner, Tarawa.

Several weeks ago Wayne and Tarawa stopped by SVC for a visit. Wayne was all crisp, fit professionalism, with the kind of posture all mothers dream about! His canine pal was lean and powerful, with a set of teeth that would give anyone pause! Both were affable and charming...but not to be messed with!

Originally from Sharon, CT, Wayne decided on SVC because of the intimacy of the classes and the excellent student to instructor ratio. His time as a student was busy and happy. He played both baseball and soccer, and was involved in many college and community activities. In particular, Wayne enjoyed John Damino's classes because, having enjoyed a career in criminal justice, he always had interesting stories to tell about CJ in action!

After graduating in 2006, Wayne went to work with young people at the Center for Restorative Justice, followed by a stint with the Bennington County Sheriff's Department. Then it was on to the Vermont State Police, where he currently serves as a Trooper First Class. When asked what might have surprised him about working in the field, he commented, "It's a little different because of people's attitudes toward law enforcement officers (mostly negative), but you quickly learn to adapt and try to overcome that attitude."

With a fondness for animals that goes back to his childhood, when the position of K9 handler became available, Wayne jumped at the opportunity. Tarawa was one year old when he and Wayne became a team. This remarkable pup spent the first year of his life with a trainer in Castleton, VT, and readily adapted to being a "working" dog.  He and Wayne have gone through extensive training together, and their commitment to each other is inspiring.  Most commonly they work on drug busts and missing person cases.

When asked about the best aspect of being part of a K9 team, Wayne says, "Tarawa is a great dog with and awesome personality! It's comforting knowing I have back-up when another officer may be 10 to 15 minutes away." The hardest part? The missing person searched with unhappy outcomes. "It's tough finding someone who's gone out in the woods and taken their own life. Or not being able to find a lost person in time."

On a happier note, Wayne and Tarawa have enjoyed visiting schools in the area (SVC included) to demonstrate their considerable skills. They make friends wherever they go, especially important for young students, who learn to feel more comfortable with police officers. As for the future, Wayne says, "I would love to have a K9 until the day I retire." Tarawa heartily agrees!

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