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First Canine Officer Passes Away

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The first Tulsa police officer to introduce canines to the department passed away this week.  Tom Surber changed police work forever in 1960 with a dog named Nero. The first Tulsa police officer to introduce canines to the department passed away this week. Tom Surber changed police work forever in 1960 with a dog named Nero.
Officer Surber believed so strongly in the idea of police dogs, he bought Nero with his own money and even offered to pay for the training. Officer Surber believed so strongly in the idea of police dogs, he bought Nero with his own money and even offered to pay for the training.
When Officer Tom Surber brought home Nero, his two oldest daughters just thought they had a new pet.  They didn't realize, Nero was a highly trained police dog, making history. When Officer Tom Surber brought home Nero, his two oldest daughters just thought they had a new pet. They didn't realize, Nero was a highly trained police dog, making history.

The first Tulsa police officer to introduce canines to the department passed away this week.  Tom Surber changed police work forever in 1960 with a dog named Nero.  News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports before Officer Surber and his dog Nero came on the scene, the only experience police had with dogs were bloodhounds, with mixed results.

Officer Surber believed so strongly in the idea of police dogs, he bought Nero with his own money and even offered to pay for the training.  Of course, canines have played a big role in police work ever since.

When Officer Tom Surber brought home Nero, his two oldest daughters just thought they had a new pet.  They didn't realize, Nero was a highly trained police dog, making history.  The newspaper boy, who used to taunt Nero, by pretending to throw the paper at him, didn't realize it either, until the day Nero got loose.

"The boy's parents came over and his dad said you're lucky to be here, that's a trained dog and he was trained, he didn't hurt him, just held him there. The paper was always on the porch," said Tom's daughter, Terri Duncan with a laugh.

Tom Surber's family says he grew up seeing the world in black and white and became a cop through and through.  He served his country, married his sweetheart, served the citizens of Tulsa and raised a family.  He wasn't a serious man, in fact, the opposite.

"He was a jokester. He had one of the most unique senses of humors. I would love to go with him, just to hear the stories," said Tom's daughter, Cyndi Johnston.

Tom developed a love for archaeology and struggled against a heart that couldn't keep up with his thirst for life.  A bout of illness a few years ago, made him reflective.

"He said I'm 60 some-odd years old, I've had a good life, seen my children grow up and my grandchildren grow almost to adults and I have no regrets, I've had a good life," said Duncan.

His family wants it made clear, he wasn't a saint, but he was a man of honor, who loved and was loved back.

Tom Surber leaves behind a wife, four children, six grandchildren and two great grandkids.  He served 21 years on the force, retiring in 1978.

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