CAMP POINT, Ill. — Steve Patterson has had the same partner for more than a year, and he isn't ready to say goodbye.
The former chief of the Camp Point Police Department also served as the department's K-9 officer, and he brought Poseidon, a German shepherd, to his Quincy home every night.
Poseidon is a member of his family and is always by his side.
“The bond is something that you cannot break, and it's just breaking my heart to even think we're going to be forced to be separated,” Patterson said. “Maybe that won't be the case.”
Patterson, who resigned as police chief Monday, was told by Camp Point officials that he needed to surrender Poseidon on Tuesday. He hopes the village will allow him to buy the dog, but his attempts to get a response to the offer have not been successful.
“To their defense, they may be just trying to sort things out at this point, so I'm just doing everything I can to try and do what's right,” Patterson said. “If that's purchase him, I will purchase him. I'll raise the money to do so.”
The Camp Point Police Department was able to buy Poseidon for $4,500 in donations.
Starting this year, Illinois law requires that police officers be given the first opportunity to adopt their police dogs that are retiring to allow them to remain with the officers' families. But it doesn't address what happens when an officer leaves.
Patterson, who was with the department since 2013, resigned after he had a disagreement with how a new officer was hired without consulting him.
“That's just not professional practice,” he said. “I expressed that to (Village President Jerry Gunn), and he told me to deal with it. That's fine. It's his right as mayor, but unfortunately, I just can't be part of an operation like that.”
Gunn told our news-gathering partners at WGEM that it's a difficult situation.
“This is an unusual case because Poseidon is the only animal we have,” Gunn said, noting that the village has spent money on training, food and medical care.
Gunn told WGEM that he feels the situation can be worked out, but he couldn't give details on how that would happen.
“We're going to have to go by the law to do it,” Gunn said. “It's just like anything else, we can't just haul off and give the dog away.”
He's shocked this wasn't handled differently.
“Chief Patterson should have come to the board, give us two weeks notice, sit down and talk to us about Poseidon and what we were going to do,” Gunn explained.
Patterson doesn't plan to find a new job in law enforcement after more than 20 years, and he had been considering retiring.
“I didn't plan to leave like this, and the reason I hadn't come up with a time to actually leave was because of the dog,” he said.
Patterson has received calls from multiple police K-9 support organizations, as well as support on social media, offering assistance to help him keep the dog. A fund has also been set up on the crowdfunding website crowdrise.com.
“People have already said, 'I'll write a check if they would accept it,' ” he said.
“The bond is so tight I can't walk from one room in my house to the other, and he literally follows me in there and lays down in there,” Patterson said. “His whole thing is he wants to be with me, and I want to be with him.”
Gunn told WGEM that Poseidon will stay with Patterson until the board can hold a special meeting to decide the matter.