Beloved Winston-Salem K-9 officer honored after dying in surgery

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TOBACCOVILLE, N.C. -- Winston-Salem police lost a valuable asset to retirement last month. Nikon -- a Czech Shepherd and K-9 officer who had been on the force for seven years -- is credited with $160,000 in seizures from illegal narcotics, finding $300,000 of illegal narcotics, recovering $32,000 in stolen property and evidence and locating 312 people in his career.

His handler, Officer Karen Simmons, not only considered Nikon her partner at work, but also her best friend and family member at home.

“He was amazing. When he was home he literally knew how to flip a switch, that when he got out of the patrol car, he was just every other dog,” said Keely Greene, Officer Simmons’ partner. “When it came time to go to work, you watched literally his entire body language change and he was in work mode.”

About a month ago, Nikon was retired from the Winston-Salem Police Department.

“We were trying to adjust to him in retirement life,” Greene said.

Last Thursday, Nikon had to have stomach surgery; a surgery he did not wake up from.

“The fact that we lost him so quick was completely devastating to us because we were looking forward to a long life with him,” Greene said.

On Wednesday, without Officer Simmons knowing, thankful residents lined Tobaccoville Road in Tobaccoville -- holding signs and American flags -- as Nikon and Officer Simmons were escorted home by Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies.

“It was completely overwhelming, both of us, we couldn’t even speak when we started to pull in and saw how many people were here,” Greene said.

Greene and Officer Simmons pulled over to thank them, as Officer Simmons -- with Nikon’s ashes under her arm and tears in her eyes --hugged nearly every one of them.

“It’s so easy to grieve by yourself and feel like you’re totally alone,” Greene said. “To actually have people take time out of their day to come out here to thank Karen and to thank Nikon for the job they did, it is amazing, and it will never be forgotten.”

Nikon was 9 years old at the time of his death.