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County K-9 officer is terminated

Six weeks after Hubbard County's K-9 officer was placed on paid leave, Jeremiah Johnson has been terminated effective last Friday.

Sheriff Cory Aukes referred all questions about the termination to county coordinator Deb Thompson.

Thompson said Johnson was placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 25 pending an investigation. He was informed Saturday of his termination, sources said.

Johnson's annual salary was $52,252, according to county records. He started work with Hubbard County March 30, 2005.

The fate of Johnson's canine partner Vulcan remains in limbo. The Park Rapids Police Department's K-9 officer Dan Kruchowski has temporarily taken the dog, but police chief Terry Eilers said "he's having a tough time with him."

The county has a significant investment in the dog and training, much of the funds coming from the public. Eilers said specialized dogs generally bond with their trainer, and the best solution for Vulcan may be for him to be retrained professionally. He was obtained from the Czech Republic almost three years ago.

Johnson was allegedly placed on leave for evading a question about his criminal history on his employment application.

He was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of possession of stolen property in 1998 in Beltrami County. The conviction does not impact his ability to hold a peace officer's license in Minnesota.

Aukes said previously he was working with a labor attorney in deciding Johnson's fate.

Johnson also has been under investigation for an unspecified financial matter by the Becker County Sheriff's Department, which forwarded the results of that investigation to the Hubbard County Attorney three weeks ago. A jailer/dispatcher has also been the subject of that probe, but no official administrative action has been taken in that matter.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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