Chaplain Robert Duvall serves as the handler for the Chaplain/ Crisis Intervention Team for the Winters Public Safety Crisis Intervention Team. He began his career in the 1980s as a Paramedic for the City of Richmond, CA. He retired in 2012 from the Contra Costa County Sheriff Office. In over 20 years in Public Safety, he saw first-hand the struggle of first responders to maintain their emotional, mental, and overall wellbeing. He decided that there needed to be a resource available to first responders, applied for, and received a specially trained canine.
K-9 Kepi was specifically paired with Chaplain Duvall due to her ability to sense emotional stress, a talent that was heightened during her three week training course. She has been trained to provide both active (moving to be touched) and passive (sitting still) emotional support. The team is often dispatched to assist with calls that have a traumatic component. Examples of calls include death notifications, serious traffic collisions, assaults, homicides, and crimes involving children.
“As a Chaplain, I can take care of the Spiritual wellbeing and as a Crisis Intervention Specialist I can cover just about everything else.”- Chaplain Duvall
K-9 Kepi started the Crisis Intervention Program as a two year old. She was provided to Chaplain/K-9 Handler Robert Duvall from Canine Companions for Independence in Santa Rosa. Robert and Kepi graduated on November 6th, 2015 as a State Certified Facility Dog and Crisis Intervention Team. They have also received a Fire Chaplain Certification. Kepi is a mix of Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. Both canine breeds have an easy going temperament and are highly trainable. Kepi exemplifies these traits in addition to a fun loving personality.
K-9 Kepi exhibited her talent of detecting stress pheromones early on. Once she completed her training, her skills were put to use as she passively and actively interacted with first responders and community members. At any indication of stress, she alerts her handler who can then begin the process of intervention. Kepi’s passive alert often consists of her seeking out an individual and sitting next to them, soliciting interaction through voice or being petted. Her active alert can consist of her directly engaging the individual by shoving her head in their hands or standing on their laps, thereby requiring they interact with her.