ROCHESTER - One of Rochester's most recognized, beloved and celebrated police officers took his last radio call on Friday.
Keith Mackenzie, who spent 18 years with the Rochester Police Department including the last 16 as its K9 officer, is leaving the department as one of its most distinguished officers having won many accolades for his K9 unit's successful tracks of criminals on the run.
Some of the most celebrated tracks were undertaken with Daisy Mae, a bloodhound owned by the Strafford County Sheriff's Department he began training in 2012.
|Retiring Rochester Police Officer and K9 handler Keith Mackenzie walks between a line of fellow officers during a ceremony to honor his service. (Courtesy photos/RPD)|
In 2015 the U.S. Police Canine Association awarded Mackenzie and Daisy Mae the National Case of the Year Award for a highly publicized track in Maine the year before. They were also awarded the Meritorious Service Award for the same case by the Maine Department of Safety for their help in tracking down a man wanted for killing his girlfriend. Mackenzie and Daisy Mae ended a six-day manhunt in Northern Maine not far from the Canadian border.
After all the hard work and effort catching the criminal, Mackenzie remarked he was just "doing his job, and the dog is just having fun."
|A tearful Keith Mackenzie holds a box containing the remains of Daisy Mae during an April 9, 2018, memorial ceremony at the Rochester Opera House. (Rochester Voice photo)|
Daisy Mae, the most heralded of his canine partners, died from a medical condition in 2018 at the age of just seven.
To honor her memory and service scores of K9 officers from throughout New Hampshire and Maine attended a memorial held at the Rochester Opera House where Mackenzie lauded his partner and friend.
"These are just not dogs," Mackenzie tearfully recalled. "I was forever talking to her in the patrol car, she was my therapy."
Other awards Mackenzie and his canine partners earned include the RPD Blair Memorial Award, RPD Lifesaving Award, Major League Baseball's K9 Hero Award (honored at Fenway Park) and 2015 NH Officer of the Year.
Mackenzie began his career as a corrections officer with Rockingham County in 2001 before being hired as a patrol officer by the Rochester Police Department in 2002.
During his time at RPD, Keith served as a member of the TAR (accident reconstruction) Team and was a member of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT).
He became K9 Officer in 2004. His K9 partner, Fina, was a drug-sniffing and tracking German Shepard who has since retired from active duty. After Fina retired, he trained a new narcotics dog, Phlirt, a yellow lab. After Daisy Mae passed in 2018 due to a medical issue, Mackenzie trained Gunner, a bloodhound, to take over tracking duties.
Beyond being central to so many successful tracks, Mackenzie and his canine buddies are always a sensation at community events like the Wings and Wheels, where the public, especially children, delight in being introduced to his partners.
During his stint at RPD he became passionate about his time training at the Working Dog Foundation and working with Dartmouth Children's Hospital and CHaD, where he raised money for charity and participated in the "Battle of the Badges" hockey games.
Mackenzie said he is looking forward to spending time with his wife, two children, and seven dogs, many of whom formerly served with him in law enforcement.
Rochester Police held a formal retirement ceremony on Friday outside their Wakefield Street headquarters.
Since the pictures were posted on the department's Facebook Page some 450 well wishers have added their congratulation. In a video RPD posted Friday Mackenzie sits in his patrol car as a Rochester dispatcher confirms the end of his final shift:
"It is a great honor and privilege and on behalf of the Rochester Police Department and the community you served, we wish you good luck in your future endeavors as well as a happy retirement ... You are secured and relieved from your final shift. Good luck to you."