Victim Assistance K9 brings comfort to LU

In February, the Lamar University Police Department (LUPD) brought a new member to the force, and the Catahoula Leopard dog named Derrick has quickly become a beloved member of the Lamar University community.   Officer Derrick

LUPD chose Derrick’s full name – Derrick Boomer Lamar – to honor both the university and the Boomtown Spindletop Museum.  

Reflecting on Derrick's popularity, LUPD Corporal and K9 handler Chad Stegall added, “Everybody knows his name. Nobody knows my name, and that's the God's honest truth right there.” 

Adopted through PAWS, a local adoption agency, Derrick was an easy match for LU.   

“They brought out four dogs that met the criteria we needed, and they had all four of them sitting down. I went in , that way he would see what I look like every day because some dogs don't like it when you wear a hat and there's dogs that have different temperament,” Stegall said. “I got down on one knee, and all I did was just stare at the dogs. He jumped up and ran to me and the lady told me ‘A good person doesn't ever choose the dog; the dog chooses the person’.” 

As a Victim Assistance K9, Derrick provides comfort and emotional support to crime victims.  

“I call him a hug dog because that's basically what he's there for,” Stegall said. “Some people call their dogs therapy dogs and stuff like that. They came up with a fancy name of Victim’s Assistance Dog for him, but it’s not just for when one thing happens. It can be anything.” 

Derrick’s services extend to those dealing with personal difficulties.  

“Just this past week, with students getting ready to take their finals, we walked right through the Setzer Center. I had two or three different girls literally crying at their laptops. I would just walk up and put him by them, and it immediately changed their day — they started hugging and petting him, and it just threw their mind off for a minute,” Stegall said. 

Stegall also takes Derrick around campus to meet students and faculty, receiving positive reactions. Officer Derrick Boomer Lamar

“My cousin, she's a doctor here that works in nursing, and she had a mental awareness class that she did, and he went in for that as well just to do a little walkthrough because everybody loves him,” Stegall said.  

His training, overseen by a professional canine trainer, involves teaching both Derrick and his handler,Corporal Stegall. Derrick is learning essential commands such as sitting, staying, and going to a designated place until released, even in crowded environments. 

“Every day, we have to do different things to keep him where he needs to be,” Stegall said.  

Despite his friendly appearance and service to others, Stegall emphasized the importance of asking before petting Derrick.  

“You're still supposed to ask before you pet, because you don't know what kind of mood he may be in that day. Because no matter what, at the end of the day, he's still a dog,” Stegall said.  

Corporal Stegall and Derrick look forward to continuing to spread positivity on the Lamar University campus.