Even before Live PD introduced the world to K-9 Lor, the police dog had a fan following in his community. He even had his own Facebook page. And ever since Lor and his human partner, Cpl James Craigmyle, were introduced to a much larger audience, outside of the Greene County (Missouri) Sheriff’s Office, the #DynamicDuo has been a fan favorite. Viewers are quick to point out their admiration for Craigmyle, saying he shows compassion, understanding and humor on the job.
After graduating high school in 1998, Craigmyle served in the U.S. Army in both Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2004, he left active duty and returned to his home state of Missouri, where he worked in a Greene County jail, attended college and got his police certification. In 2011, his K-9 partner Lor joined him, and he officially became a part of the K-9 unit at the Greene County Sherriff’s Office.
A&E True Crime spoke to Craigmyle about his job today, his relationship with Lor and a few truths about police dogs that he’d like the world to know.
How did you get into working with the K-9 unit?
When I started out in patrol, we didn’t have a K-9 unit in Greene County. I had seen the working dogs over in Iraq and Afghanistan and I thought, That’s what I want to do.
In 2009, our first dog came, but I didn’t get selected [for the K-9 unit]. Another guy had years of experience on me. I trained with him. I listened and I watched him. I figured out how things worked and I showed my dedication. Then a second dog came along, and I didn’t get it! In 2011, we got our third dog, which was Lor. He was 14 months old. I had to interview with the Sheriff and the Majors and the command staff here [and finally got on the unit].
Lor’s name was originally Loris. Why did you decide to change it?
Lor initially came from Czechoslovakia. When our head trainer and our senior K-9 handler at the time went down to Alabama to select Lor, they sent some videos and pictures. I said, ‘Look at that cute dog. What’s his name?’ His name was Loris.
Whenever I said Loris I thought of Lois, like Lois Lane from Superman. I talked to the sheriff and he said, ‘Yeah, let’s change it.’
The night they dropped him off, there was a thunderstorm. He was outside whining and crying so I went outside and I sat with him in the pouring rain. I was thinking, What am I going to call you? I was running names through my mind, thinking Thor. It’s raining, it’s lightning, I’m thinking God of Thunder, Thor. But that’s just too stereotypical, so I thought, I’ll go with Lor.
What is Lor like?
Lor’s like a light switch. It’s on and off. When I put that collar on him, he’s in work mode. When I take that collar off, when we get home, he’s relaxed. He’s easy to get along with, loves kids and loves other animals.
Lor is not like some of the other dogs [on the K-9 unit]. He doesn’t get anxious whenever we go to calls. He’s not barking and screaming and howling when I’m running lights and sirens. He is just totally relaxed and easygoing.
He doesn’t like to be alone, he doesn’t like to be away from me. If you ever watch the live shots before the show starts, pay attention to him. Whenever I get out, you’ll hear him—he’ll start barking, and I’ll close the door. That’s the only time he really barks. He doesn’t bark when somebody comes up. He doesn’t bark when I’m on the radio because I have trained him [to understand] that that’s Dad’s time.
What kind of training do you do with him?
Throughout the day, I’m always training with him. If we are out and there are no calls for service, I’ll take a toy and play fetch with him. I’ll hide drugs for him in different areas for him to find while we’re training—you’ve got to train where you work.
He never knows when he’s going to train, so he’s always on his toes about what is going on.
How do you decide whether or not Lor joins you to respond to a call?
Whenever I go to work, he is always with me. But do I use him on every call? Absolutely not. If I’m going to a domestic [call], I don’t need him in the house with me. If I go to a motor-vehicle accident, I don’t need him to help me. Not every call is a dog call.
I know what calls for service I’m going to need him for: for the burglary calls, maybe an assault call, where somebody has run from the scene of a crime. I’m going to need him whenever I stop a car for a drug sniff, if I have reasonable suspicion to believe there are drugs in the car. If another deputy calls and says, ‘Hey, you got your dog with you? We could use you over here on this call,’ then we do that.
He’s also a good de-escalation tool. If I pull up behind a deputy and a guy or girl is going off on the deputy, acting really angry and aggressive, but they’ve not fought [the deputy], I’ll bring Lor out of the car. They back down. Every single time.
What should people know about K-9s that they may not be aware of?
There’s a misconception out there from the way K-9s used to be to the way K-9s are now. People see our dogs tracking somebody and they’re snapping and they’re barking and they find the drugs. They don’t see the softer side of the dogs. These are just typical dogs [when they’re] at home.
Our dogs have a job, just as we do, and we want the public to know the dogs are here to help them. I can tell Lor to bite you, and he’ll [attack] you and then 10 seconds later you could turn around and pet him. The dog is only doing what Dad or Mom tells him to, to make them happy. We don’t want the public to fear our dogs.
Dogs [in the K-9 unit] are not these aggressive, gonna-tear-your-throat-out dogs. That’s what I want people to know about Lor. That’s why I post these pictures [of him] with stuffed animals and the lovey, cuddly-type photos.
What do you love most about working with Lor?
I love taking an animal that can’t talk to you, that doesn’t have thumbs, that can’t drive, can’t do anything other than use their mouth, nose, ears and eyes, and teaching them to protect and to help the community.
Talk to me about Lor’s fans.
[Before Live PD,] Lor had a Facebook page. He had a huge following here from our local community. We get calls to go to birthday parties; we get calls to go to schools. I’ll bring Lor in his hat and dress him up.
Can you imagine work without the K-9 unit now?
I don’t know how we could function without our K-9 unit. Lor has found many kids who have wandered off, who were playing hide-and-seek and got lost. If you find one missing kid, if you find one Alzheimer’s patient with your dog, that is worth all of the hours and the money and the heartache.
There does come a point in time where we get older, and we do have to phase out and let the younger generation take over, to be able to keep up with the dogs and be able to keep up with these 17-, 18-, 19-year-old people who are going out there stealing cars, who are hyped up on meth. I do foresee myself, in the future, maybe being the supervisor over the K-9 unit, and not handling a dog. It will be a really hard and sad day for me. I love working with the dogs.
What is something that would surprise viewers to know about you?
I think I’ve put myself out there, I think maybe a little too much [laughing]. I did tell everybody about my modeling career. I was in high school, and that was something I never thought I would ever let out with anybody.