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Jan 17

Rifle Police Department Hits the Big Time!

Posted on January 17, 2019 at 12:29 PM by Michael Churchill

It’s the holy grail of newsprint real estate: The front page of the Sunday New York Times. Arguably one of the most prestigious newspapers, the New York Times has nearly four million subscribers. Four million people opened their papers last Sunday and were greeted with a story and photos featuring our very own local officers. 

The focus of the article dealt with drug-sniffing police dogs being forced into retirement due to the legalization of marijuana here in Colorado and other states. Dogs that have been trained to locate marijuana can’t unlearn that skill and if they do, defense attorneys would certainly have course to argue that the dog had not “unlearned” the odor. Legally, that’s a problem since dogs alert officers to the possible presence of contraband. As Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein told the Times, “[a] dog can’t tell you, ‘hey I smell marijuana’ or ‘I smell meth’”. 

Rifle has just such a dog. Officer Tulo, a Yellow Labrador Retreiver, has been with the department for 8 years. He will retire in January due to his age and skillset which includes marijuana recognition. Two new dogs, Jax and Makai, are not being trained to alert on the odor of marijuana. 

Although other departments from around the country were featured in the story, Rifle was the main focus and the only department to have photos published. Corporal Garret Duncan, Officer Jared Bartunek and Chief Klein are all prominently featured and accompanied by gorgeous full-color photos. 

After the Times article was published, other media outlets including Fox News, Newsweek and the London Times also latched onto the story. Way to go Rifle Police Department! Or is it “Nationally Recognized Rifle Police Department”? 

Check out the Times article online at

Rifle Rapport is a periodic column featuring the people and projects of the City of Rifle. If you have suggestions for future articles, please contact Kathy Pototsky at 970-665-6420 or



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