Police dogs Diesel and Axle are forces to be reckoned with on the streets of Rome, unlike the city’s first K-9 officer, Bruno.
Diesel, who works with officer Richard Penson, and Axle, paired with officer Joel Stroupe, are expensive, highly trained dogs.
Bruno was a slightly overweight mutt that just started showing up at City Hall back in the 1950s.
Retired Rome police lieutenant Lonie Adcock said no one ever really knew where Bruno stayed during the day — but when it came time for the night shift to report, Bruno was right there.
Those were the days when the police department was in the basement of City Hall.
Officer Tommy Simms, who was often assigned to walk the Broad Street beat, adopted Bruno. Every night, Bruno would be at his side. If Simms was not on duty, Adcock said, Bruno would go with whoever was walking the downtown beat.
Adcock recalled one incident where Simms was attending to a drunk and Bruno was flopped down on the sidewalk. A passerby made an off-hand remark about kicking the dog to get it to move out of the way.
“You’d be better off kicking that cop,” Adcock said the old drunk shouted.
When Bruno finally died in 1961, a special casket was commissioned for the dog and he was laid to rest on the side of City Hall.
The city manager at the time, Bruce Hamler, took a personal interest in Bruno’s funeral service and a grave marker is set at the resting place of Rome’s first police dog.