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First Boise Airport K-9 officer retires, created unit in response to 9/11 attacks

Officer Anthony Damer served with the Boise Police Department for 23 years. Friends, family and colleagues celebrated his retirement Thursday at the airport.

BOISE, Idaho — A collection of close connections filed into a third-floor Boise Airport conference room Thursday to celebrate more than two decades of service under the same roof.

Boise Police Department (BPD) officer Anthony Damer retired. His 23 years with BPD is highlighted through a handpicked selection to kickstart the airport's K-9 Unit – it was a direct response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"9/11 was truly a call to duty for a lot of people. Everybody, after that event, wanted to do something to help," Damer said. "Back then we didn't think much, and I was so young, I didn't even realize what was happening. We just jumped at it and hit the ground running."

When the K-9 Unit started, the Boise Airport Police Department had not yet merged with BPD. Then Boise Airport Police Chief Mike Johnson pushed for a K-9 program before the 9/11 attacks; however, he didn't get the necessary support until after.

"You know, the world changed," the now retired Johnson said. "And now it was, 'how can we do not have canines? And how fast can we get them?'"

Damer, a rookie at the time, graduated at the top of his class. Johnson sought him out personally to start the airport K-9 Unit.

"He said, 'when do you want to go to Texas?' That's where we do all our training," Damer said. "We just kind of jumped at the opportunity and turned into a wonderful career."

A fellow BPD officer tallied the numbers at Damer's retirement ceremony crediting the now-retired officer with the following:

  • Three national security events
  • 25 bomb threat responses
  • 72 dignitary support missions
  • 4,223 cargo searches
  • 4,388 hours of foot patrol at the Boise Airport

"We've had a lot of other good K-9 officers here, but Anthony stayed here," Johnson said. "He deserves that retirement."

Damer served with three different dogs throughout his career. His current dog, a middle-aged yellow Labrador named Lubo, retired too.

The Boise Airport K-9 Unit has grown to a total of four dogs and handlers each. Damer's replacement is already working with the team to fill the role.

"We've never found an actual [explosive] device with a dog here at the airport," Damer said. "The deterrence factor of having dogs here and having them available – having the good people see them and also the bad people see them – it lets everybody know that we're here to make sure everyone's safe."

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