Sundance’s newest officer brings first K-9 to city department
By Sarah Pridgeon
Hiring Officer Dan Bush to serve with the Sundance Police Department was an easy choice for Police Chief Marty Noonan, who had the chance to work alongside him when he was based just over the border in Weston County. It wasn’t a pot that needed sweetening, but it didn’t hurt that Bush brings with him the department’s very first K-9 officer.
“It took me four years in Weston County to start the program and get the money donated. I went to school and, when you get there, the dog is all trained, so essentially they just train you with the dog,” Bush explains.
Bata, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois, was previously owned by the Weston County Peace Officer’s Association, says Noonan. Bush is her certified handler, so the Sundance Police Department bought her when he was hired.
“They can be re-handled, but it’s pretty tough. It would be tougher on me than it would on her, I think,” Bush jokes.
“She’s great. She loves to work and she’s ready to go, it doesn’t matter where she’s at. She has a lot of energy.”
Working together in Weston County, Bush says he and Bata were an effective team. He often used her on home visits for probation and parole and remembers plenty of drug-related incidents in which his K-9 was an asset, including one day on which four criminals were arrested.
“I believe every little bit counts,” he says. “I’d love to [seize] a truckload, every cop would because they want to see their dog on top of a big pile for the picture, but the little ones are good too. It makes her happy – she doesn’t care either way!”
The department plans to use Bata in the schools, as a deterrent. She will also work in conjunction with the K-9s in service within Crook County with Highway Patrol and the Sheriff’s Office.
“The more the merrier,” Bush smiles.
Bush himself has been in law enforcement in one capacity or another since the age of 20. He moved to Weston County over a decade ago to return to a part of the country he always loved.
“I lived in Colorado as a kid, with my dad, and the plan was always to move back west,” he says.
Bush graduated high school in 1994 and headed to college.
“At the time, they had a corrections program in Michigan, so I hired into the Department of Corrections in late 1996 and worked all over the state,” he says.
“In 2004, I started thinking about how I was going to get back out here, so I started looking at sheriff’s offices and others. The Wyoming Department of Corrections actually came to Michigan and had a huge recruiting thing, so I drove to Flint, Michigan and recruited with a guy from Newcastle – and here I sit.”
Law enforcement enticed Bush because of the challenge and interaction with people, he says. It also proved a character-building career choice.
“Going into a prison in Michigan at 20 with 1300 inmates builds character, I’ll say – it changes you,” he says.
“You go from being scared of everybody to learning what to say and what not to say and you learn that wearing a uniform doesn’t make you Superman. It’s more what comes out of your mouth than what you’re wearing that’s going to save you.”
Bush also enjoys the unpredictable nature of the job.
“People are interesting. Over the years, I’ve seen the craziest things,” he says. “It’s never a dull moment. At the prison, you could punch in every day and know pretty much what you were going to do unless something exciting happened, but being on the street, for me, is better, because I have no idea what’s going to happen today. I know what I can go do, but you may get that radio call and that’s exciting.”
Bush spent his first week familiarizing himself with Sundance and its people. Though he knows the county well thanks to countless hunting trips in the area – and is looking forward to getting to know it even better as he enjoys riding his four-wheeler and snowmobile – he still needs to get to know the layout of the town, he says.
Looking forward to getting to know Sundance and its people, he encourages anyone who would be interested to meet him to feel free to say hello and introduce themselves.