CLARKSVILLE, IN (December 2021) – Work hard, play hard. That is probably the best way to describe Clarksville’s newest Police K9 “Argo”. While many of us are sleeping at night, he and his partner Officer Thomas Bamforth are roaming the streets of Clarksville, working hard to keep us safe. They begin their shift each day around dinner time, and call it a night when many of us are waking up for breakfast.
Although the hours never change, each day is different for “Argo” and Officer Bamforth. Just like any other police unit, they answer calls to 911, make traffic stops, and perform various duties for Clarksville Police. When they aren’t performing their normal duties, they are answering calls for help from other officers who need assistance searching for drugs, tracking down suspects who are on the run, or helping to find missing persons. Although “Argo” is great at just about all of his duties, Officer Bamforth says “Argo” specializes in finding people. Whether it is finding a suspect or a missing person, “Argo” always gets his man.
As a matter of fact, one of “Argo’s” most memorable cases involves a missing child. Officer Bamforth says a while back, he and “Argo” were called to Clarksville’s Lapping Park after a young boy went missing. Bamforth says the boy was enjoying the park with his family when they got separated. Once “Argo” arrived on scene, he went to work sniffing out signs of the young boy. Eventually, he led officers to the banks of Silver Creek and the exact spot where the boy fell into the water. Using that location as a starting point, officers were able to track the boy to the other side of the creek and found him safe and sound. He was quickly reunited with his family. Had it not been for “Argo”, the end result could have been much different.
Getting to this point has been a long journey for “Argo”. After being born in Poland, “Argo” was shipped to a Police K9 facility in Michigan. That’s where he met Officer Bamforth for the first time. Officer Bamforth traveled to Michigan to select a new Police K9 for the Town of Clarksville. After meeting and working with several different dogs, Officer Bamforth selected “Argo”. Once he was selected, Officer Bamforth and Argo went through extensive training together. Officer Bamforth says working with a new Police K9 is like working with a newborn baby. He had to teach “Argo” how to follow commands, search for contraband, distinguish human smells from others, and many more skills. Bamforth says “Argo” only knew how to do two things when they first met, which was to chase a tennis ball, and to bite. Fortunately, Officer Bamforth was able to teach “Argo” everything he needed to know, but not before taking a few bites himself. Bamforth says he has the scars to prove it.
The training for both Officer Bamforth and “Argo” was intense. For 8 weeks, they worked with trainers from the North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA). Even though “Argo” graduated from his basic training, he continues to train today. In fact, Officer Bamforth and “Argo” work with specialized Police K9 trainers twice a month to maintain and improve their skills. Officer Bamforth says most K9 officers only work with one trainer, but he is fortunate to be one of the few officers in the country that gets to continually work with two master trainers on a regular basis here in Clarksville.
Being partnered with a K9 is no easy task. In fact, Officer Bamforth says many police officers will turn down the chance to work with a K9 because it is a dirty job. Just imagine all of the dog slobber, hair, and mud he must deal with on a daily basis. Bamforth says he spends a lot of time bathing “Argo” because he gets dirty and muddy so often.
Even with the intensive training and continuous bathing, Officer Bamforth say he wouldn’t have it any other way. He says he loves law enforcement, loves working with “Argo”, and loves serving the community. Officer Bamforth came to the Town of Clarksville after working for several years with the Charlestown Police Department. He says when he had the chance to transfer to Clarksville, he jumped at the opportunity to work at a larger department with new and greater challenges.
As the title of this article reads, “Argo” and partner Officer Bamforth work hard each and every day. However, they also know how to have fun. What many people do not know is that Police K9’s actually live with their partners for their entire lives. So when Bamforth goes home after a long day of work, “Argo” goes too. So what does a Police K9 do for fun? Officer Bamforth says “Argo’s” favorite things to do are to run around the backyard and fetch tennis balls. In fact, Bamforth has a tennis racket he uses to hit tennis balls across the yard. Unfortunately, due to “Argo’s” sharp teeth, they go through quite a few tennis balls. Bamforth laughed when we told him the community may read this story and decide to send him a lifetime supply of tennis balls. (Tennis ball donations may be dropped at the Clarksville Police Department, 1970 Broadway Street).
Officer Bamforth says he wishes more people could see “Argo” when he is at home. He describes it almost like turning a switch on and off. He says when “Argo” gets into his police truck, he knows it is time to go to work. When he gets home, he knows it is time to play and enjoy life. Bamforth says if you saw “Argo” running around the backyard (which is made up of several acres), you would never think that he was a Police K9. Fortunately, he isn’t alone when he is playing outside. Officer Bamforth says he has another dog at home, a golden retriever, to keep “Argo” company at night.
During the last part of the interview, we asked Officer Bamforth how he rewards “Argo”. Does he have a favorite treat like most dogs? Surprisingly, the answer was no. “Argo” has a very strict diet to make sure he stays in the best shape possible. It is also to prevent him from trying to eat food he may come across while at work. Bamforth says “Argo” is rewarded with extra play time his favorite toy.
So as the title of this article reads, “Argo” is a dog that knows how to work hard and likes to play hard. As a resident of the Town of Clarksville, it is comforting to know that we have someone like Officer Thomas Bamforth and K9 Officer “Argo” working hard to keep our community safe.