My name is Jeff Dovigh and I have been working for the New York State Police since October 30, 2000. I have received my share of commendations and awards, been part of many interesting details and serve on several specialized units (K-9, Contaminated Crime Scene, Bomb Disposal Unit). My career has been very rewarding, helping countless numbers of people. From providing people with simple directions to aiding victims of serious crimes. But this is not all about me.
Over the course of my first 6+ years I was partnered with quite a few people. Some better than others. Then in 2006, a new recruit came to my station. I took him under my wing and showed him around. His name was David J. Lane. After one shift, I knew this guy was pretty squared away. Probably because he served in the U.S. Army, completing tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. We complemented each other perfectly and made each other better. My weaknesses were his strengths and my experiences and familiarity of the patrol area helped Dave. Dave was the consummate jokester. He was always the one to provide a laugh when you needed one. Beyond the hijinks, Dave was a great cop. He always had your back no matter what, would work a case tirelessly and could talk to people like no other. He had the gift of making people say a little more than they should. Not only suspects, but co-workers as well. For the next two years, we were partnered up on a daily basis. As time went on our friendship grew stronger, not only at work, but outside of work too. Dave ate his share of holiday meals with my wife and our family because of our work schedule and his long distance from home. We went out for dinner and drinks with mutual friends. We bonded over the ups and downs of our favorite team, the New York Mets. We even went to Shea Stadium to see them play.
In 2008, I was accepted into the K-9 school and was away for 5 months. With the K-9, came a transfer to another station. It was a great opportunity, but it was an adjustment to leave a group of people I considered family.
November 4, 2009 is the day that changed everything. I was at the K-9 training facility with my first K-9 “Matti.” I received a call from Dave that morning. He was just checking in and told me he herded some deer out of the road and up my driveway with the troop car. We agreed that it was long overdue and we had to get together soon. Little did I know that would be the last time I would speak to Dave. Later in the afternoon, I received a call from my colleague telling me that Dave was in a car accident and didn’t make it. Dave was tragically killed in an on-duty motor vehicle accident less than ½ mile from my house. It is a location that I unfortunately have to revisit nearly every day. In the years that have followed, Dave’s fiancé Kelly and I planned, designed and constructed a permanent memorial in his honor at the crash site. It’s a peaceful place now. A place where you can stop and remember.
In July of 2015, it was time for K-9 “Matti” to retire and I received my second K-9. I spoke with Dave’s parents, Steve and Cheryl, two of the nicest people you could ever meet. I asked them if it would be ok to name another K-9 in honor of Dave. Army Veteran and NYS Trooper Dave Ruderfer had the first K-9 to honor Dave, with K-9 “Lane.” Ruderfer and K-9 Lane had a stellar career, but a promotion to Investigator led to K-9 “Lane’s” retirement. Mr. and Mrs. Lane said they would be honored to have a second dog named for Dave. I named the dog “D.J.” He is a longhaired German Shepherd trained in explosive detection, tracking and handler protection. K-9 “D.J.” is very similar to his namesake. He is hard working, loyal and dedicated … with a slightly mischievous side. I miss Dave every day. I will never forget the life lessons, the laughs and the bond that we had. Having K-9 “D.J.” reminds me of all the good times we shared and keeps Dave’s legacy going. It is truly special.
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