Former Carlton County K-9 adjusts to retirement

The German shepherd was originally brought to the force in January 2015 and is now settling into his new role as family pet since retiring earlier this month.

Dogs sit together
Carlton County Sgt. Tory Cawcutt's two dogs, Roman, left, and Louie, sit together in the trunk of Cawcutt's vehicle. Roman recently retired as Cawcutt's K-9 partner.
Contributed / Sgt. Tory Cawcutt

CARLTON — Life as a family dog has been a bit of a transition for newly retired K-9 Deputy Roman.

After spending the past seven years on patrol alongside Sgt. Tory Cawcutt of the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, Roman can’t help but get excited each time he sees his right hand man prepare for another day of work.

Dog on lap of owner
Retired Carlton County K-9 Deputy Roman sits on the lap of handler Sgt. Tory Cawcutt while the two are off duty.
Contributed / Tory Cawcutt

“He still does get a little anxious when I am up in the morning at 5 o’clock getting ready for work. He knows,” Cawcutt said. “The last seven years he’s gone to work with me, and so he’s up with me in the mornings. He’s followed me around before my night shift as well, and so he’s not quite used to staying back at home.”

Adapting to life outside of work has been made easier by his new companion Louie, a boxer, who has been keeping the German shepherd active at home. Given that Roman's main purpose was to work, the energy he burns playing with Louie has been important in keeping him content with his new lifestyle.
“As long as we keep him active, he’ll be a happy dog,” Cawcutt said.

In the field

Roman officially retired on Jan. 14. He joined the sheriff's office in January 2015, after originally being purchased through a vendor. The vendor flew to Slovakia and brought Roman back stateside, where he underwent training to become a police dog.


During their partnership, Cawcutt and Roman were deployed over 300 times, made 60 arrests and seven street bites/criminal apprehensions — three of which were for individuals wanted for murder. The pair was also instrumental in a host of drug busts.

The highlight of the tandem’s career together came in March 2020, when Cawcutt and Roman were tasked with canvassing an area near Big Lake Road in search of a triple-murder suspect, Cawcutt said. The search ended with the apprehension of suspect Sheldon Thompson near Mission Creek Road in Perch Lake Township.

K-9 Roman and his handler, Carlton County Sgt. Tory Cawcutt
Carlton County Sgt. Tory Cawcutt and K-9 Roman.
Contributed / Steve Van Kekerix

For their efforts, they were named the U.S. Police Canine Association Region 12 Patrol Case of the Quarter the following month, and later the Case of the Year.

Roman was not only tapped to fight crime during his career. He also attended local events, where he served as an ambassador for the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office.

“The benefit to having a K-9 available for community outreach is immense,” Carlton County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Dan Danielson said via email. “Roman and Sgt. Cawcutt participated in many K-9 community demonstrations and events, (including) the Carlton County Fair, and numerous school visits.”

“Roman and Sgt. Cawcutt were often the face of our organization, and helped our office make connections with community members both young and old,” he added.

Preparing for a new pair

In the weeks since Roman’s retirement, the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office has been searching for a new K-9 deputy and handler to join the team. The hope is to have a new pair selected by summer, Cawcutt said.

Cawcutt says he’s optimistic about the search and explained the criteria for a strong candidate.


“What we’d be looking for is someone who would be committed to the position because it is very demanding,” Cawcutt said. “It takes a lot of time on- and off-duty.”

Longtime Conservation Officer Scott Staples has been training with his new teammate for 17 weeks and said he is excited to get to work.

Officials are eager for a new K-9 to join the team because of the value they bring to the community, Danielson said. Police dogs are able to track and apprehend suspects who flee officers, as well as alert investigators if drugs are present at a scene.

“Having a K-9 within the department greatly enhances our ability to provide the services necessary to our community. If a community member or visitor becomes lost within the county, having a trained and ready K-9 allows us to respond faster and more efficiently and track that lost person,” Danielson said.

The newest K-9 Deputy will be the eighth in the history of the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, according to Danielson. The program dates back to the 1980s, when Deputy Ed Howes and his K-9 partner, Bear, became the first duo.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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