New officers bring new traits

Published 11:18 pm Monday, April 23, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
The Atmore Police Department has six additional helping hands and four dog paws to aid in the city's law enforcement.
Keith Gohagin, Isaac Lopez, Matt Rabren and narcotics detection K9, Avalon, are all new to the police department.
APD chief Jason Dean said all three men have been excellent additions to the department and he is pleased with all of the work they have shown.
"They are all three good officers," Dean said. "I am well satisfied with all of their progress shown thus far."
Gohagin was born in Brewton and raised in Huxford. He attended Escambia County High School and then transferred to Monroe Academy in Monroeville. He graduated from the academy in 1996.
He then graduated from the Northeast Alabama Police Academy in November of 2006.
Before working at APD, Gohagin worked with the Department of Corrections so he already had a wealth of experience in law enforcement.
"He was already certified so we didn't have to put him through any training," Dean said.
Gohagin chose law enforcement as his career preference because of family members, and after working with the Department of Corrections he chose to apply for the job at APD. He was offered the job and accepted the position. His first day as a patrolman for the police department in Atmore was Feb. 5.
"My family has been in it (law enforcement)," Gohagin said. "I was working at the prison and decided to come down here."
Gohagin is enjoying his time in Atmore thus far and really enjoys working with the other police officers at APD.
"I like it in Atmore and I like the people I work with," he said.
Lopez is from Houston, Texas. He moved from Texas to Jay, Fla., in 1998 where he attended Jay High School.
Lopez also went to Northeast Alabama Police Academy where he graduated March 30, 2006. He worked at the Flomaton Police Department for one year and then transferred to APD in February.
Lopez brings a unique quality to the police department in Atmore, as he is the only officer in the department who speaks Spanish fluently.
"I'm the only fluent Spanish speaking officer," Lopez said.
Dean said that Lopez's ability to speak Spanish is beneficial to the department.
"It is a very big asset to our department," Dean said.
Lopez is used even when he is off-duty and the department is in need of a translator.
"If we need him, we call him, even on his off days," Dean said. "If we get in a situation where we do need him, we'll call him and he'll usually interpret for us. We don't use him a lot but when we do need him, he is here."
Lopez said that he has also enjoyed his time at APD.
"I love working with this police department, especially the shift that I'm working with," he said.
Rabren was born and raised in East Brewton. He attended Southwest Alabama Police Academy in Bay Minette, where he graduated in March of 2000.
Rabren transferred from the Escambia County Sheriff's Department to APD in August of 2006.
According to Dean, Rabren also brings forth certain uniqueness to the staff.
"Officer Rabren is also a K9 handler," Dean said.
Rabren acts as any other police officer except he also handles Avalon, the police department's narcotics detection K9.
"I answer calls like any other officer," Rabren said. "I run the dog around the car if drugs are suspected, or through rooms to check for drugs."
Avalon, a four-year-old black lab, is taken care of only by Rabren, who feeds him and takes him to training. Avalon even lives with Rabren and has lived with him since she was 1-year-old.
"I am in charge of the upkeep, feeding and we train once a week in Pensacola," Rabren said. "Dogs have to recertify once a year, so that is what the training is for. I am her only handler, I got her in October 2003 and have had her since then. She was about a year old at that time."
Rabren said Avalon had to pass a special certification to be allowed to work around people.
"She originally had to go through a 250-hour certification course so that she could work on the street," he said. "She goes through an eight-hour training session once a week in Pensacola at their sheriff's office."
Rabren likes working in Atmore because he has more opportunities to keep busy with this department, he said.
"I enjoy it here a lot," he said. "There are more officers and more chances to be proactive here."
With the addition of these three men, plus one dog, the police department has even more eyes and ears to utilize for protection of Atmore citizens.

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