Longtime St. Petersburg Police K9 Handler James Olson passed away in his home last week. He was 48 years old. Jimmy, as he was known by those of us who worked with him, was a consummate police officer, K9 handler, son, and father.
It was my privilege to have spent time down at the Compound with Jimmy and the great guys at SPPD K9. I trained my second and third dogs down there and I was a better handler for the experience.
Ofc. Olson’s funeral was today and I was honored to accompany my K9 Unit. About forty dog teams attended and, at the request of the family, mustered for a tribute to the fallen officer.
Jimmy’s death was unexpected and a shock to the K9 handlers in the Tampa Bay Area. He was a state-certified K9 trainer and evaluator, so his competence was widely known. As evidenced by all the different K9 patches at the funeral, Jimmy was respected in our community.
SPPD bio follows:
Sad Day for St. Pete PD Grieving the loss of Officer James Olson.
It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the death of K9 Handler James R. Olson, who passed away in his home this morning, December 16, 2015. James started his career with us on March 12, 1990 and had been assigned to the K-9 Unit since 1992. The past 4 years he was paired with canine “Soren.”
Officer Olson was awarded the St. Petersburg Police Department’s Medal of Valor, and the Pinellas Co. Sheriff’s Office Medal of Honor, for his bravery and decisive action on October 7, 2001. On that day, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic-related shooting just outside the city limits of St Petersburg. Deputies arrived to find a woman shot in the front yard of the residence. In an attempt to rescue the woman, a deputy was shot by a high powered rifle and pinned down. Officer Olson responded to the situation and volunteered to be a member of a two-officer team tasked with rescuing the deputy. While under fire from the suspect, Officer Olson was able to reach the injured deputy, remove him from danger and deliver him to medical personnel for treatment.
During his 22 years of dedicated service to the K-9 Unit, Officer Olson assisted in the training of several K-9 teams. He achieved the status of Canine Instructor, as well as Canine Evaluator. As a Canine Evaluator, Officer Olson was able to certify any K-9 team for street duty in the State of Florida. In 2013, Officer Olson and “Soren” were certified as a “Canine Explosive Detection” team. In 2016, Officer Olson was scheduled to become the Lead K-9 Trainer for the St. Petersburg Police Department.
For the past several years, Officer Olson served as a lead instructor for the Police Department concerning active shooter incidents, explosives awareness and detection, and crowd management techniques. He helped to develop safe tactics for the deployment of the pole mounted thermal camera system, as well as an innovative building search technique for use during routine patrol or active shooter scenarios.
Throughout his career, Officer Olson exhibited daily dedication to the safety of the public and his fellow officers through his commitment to the K-9 Unit, his devotion to training and his bravery in the face of mortal danger.
Needless to say, we will all miss him more than words can express. He was not just our co-worker but our great friend as well.
Jimmy was a big, friendly personality who was always willing to help out a handler with an issue or an officer in need out on the street. You will be sorely missed, brother.
Montage, SPPD; Photo of teams, TBF