Community Police

Lower Saucon Police Department Welcomes New K-9 as Atos Retires

Atos Bethlehem

Atos, a four-legged member of the Lower Saucon Township Police Department, is hanging up his badge. His retirement coincides with the arrival of the force’s newest member, a K-9 named Titus.

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Atos Bethlehem

Lower Saucon Township Police Department’s K-9 team member Atos is pictured with new equipment purchased with a grant from DeSales University’s Master of Criminal Justice program in 2015. Alongside his partner, Ofc. Steven Kunigus, Atos served the residents of Lower Saucon Township until his retirement in May 2021. (FILE PHOTO)

A four-legged member of the Lower Saucon Township Police Department is hanging up his badge, marking the end of his service and making way for the force’s newest member, a K-9 named Titus.

Atos has been with the Lower Saucon Police Department since 2013, the department said in a Crimewatch press release earlier this month, in which his retirement was announced. He was imported from France and certified through the National Police Canine Association along with his handler, Ofc. Steve Kunigus.

In March 2015, Atos and Kunigus were recipients of DeSales University grant funding for trauma equipment.

In May of that year, the pair received commendations from the City of Bethlehem Police Department for their involvement in the response to an incident the previous summer.

During the incident, which occurred on July 3, 2014, Atos helped officers locate and arrest someone suspected of stealing a vehicle who was believed to be armed.

According to the press release, Atos also assisted with several large seizures of narcotics in Lower Saucon and surrounding communities and took part in K-9 demonstrations and community outreach activities throughout his career.

He will now enjoy retirement at home with Kunigus and his family.

Above, Atos and Ofc. Steve Kunigus receive commendations from Bethlehem Police Department then-Chief Mark DiLuzio in May 2015. Atos, who retired this month, had been serving with the department since 2013. His successor, Titus, is the fourth dog to join the Lower Saucon Township Police Department since the inception of its K-9 program in 2000. (FILE PHOTO)

“As we celebrate the retirement of K-9 Atos, we are officially welcoming our newest police K-9, Titus to the department,” said Police Chief Thomas Barndt. “Thanks to an anonymous donor who we are very grateful for, K-9 Titus will be the fourth canine to join the department since the inception of the canine program in the year 2000.”

Titus is a two-year-old Belgian Malinois who joins the force by way of the Netherlands, where he received his initial training. 

According to the American Kennel Club, Malinois are a breed of Belgian shepherding dogs known for their strength, performance and high work-drive. Members of the breed are commonly employed as military and police K-9s.

Like Atos, Titus has been training alongside Kunigus, who will also serve as his handler. Titus attended the Progressive K-9 Academy and has received his certifications through the National Police Canine Association.

“Titus has already been on several successful deployments in his short time with the department,” Barndt said. “We are excited for his future within the department and want to wish him a safe, successful career.”


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Jonny Hart

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