In the 1980's The State of Florida faced a huge drug trafficking problem. One solution was the formation of the Florida Highway Patrol's K-9 Program. I was fortunate enough to participate in the Pilot program. The F.H.P. began with four K-9/Handler teams. This story maps the career of my K-9, Abbey and me. Together we made an unstoppable team, receiving two State Cabinet Resolutions from two Governors as well as many other numerous awards. Unstoppable that is, until we were poisoned by some drugrunners on the Florida Turnpike. We set precedents on many levels obtaining drugs as well as precedents for other officers around the country of how we were poisoned. Abbey lost her life. I had years of sickness before getting a liver and kidney transplant. All the while, I was still proud to say I was a State Trooper. This story touches our war on drugs as well as the fight for my life and the experiences that you have with a transplant and how it affects everyone close to you. I hope that through this book someone can benefit from even the smallest bit of information from all of my experiences.
Inside the package we found several kilos of cocaine and the men were arrested. After Abbey checked the package she collapsed on the hot pavement for a moment as if she was sick. I loaded her in the car and went on to the Station and then to the court hearing. Trooper Bill Bruce bagged the evidence. Neither of us experienced any physical effects, except for a burning in our throats and a scent that was a cross between an over chlorinated swimming pool and hot tar. I arrived at court and was about to start the hearing, when the Judge called me up to the bench to ask about Abbey's incident. He continued the case to a later date and advised me to take her to a veterinarian at once. I took her to Dr. Bernard Mills who was the State contracted veterinarian. He could only draw blood and test for the standard poisons. He did this without finding any conclusive evidence. He later testified in a deposition that Abbey’s symptoms that day were consistent with a poison that may have affected her liver. The next day I went into Lt. Alderman’s office along with Trooper Bruce and Capt. Jim Lee. I advised them of Abbey’s incident and that I believed this substance might be toxic. We went about our normal business not realizing that both Abbey and I had a time bomb ticking away inside of us with liver damage and possible death close at hand.
Richard "Spanky" Chapman had a dream to be a Police Officer & change lives. He succeeded in that, however, not before losing his partner's life and almost his own. Now in retirement, he reflects back on the adventures, good and bad. Richard retired in 2002, but still feels a passion for what he loved to do and a deep loss for the things he was yet to accomplish. Richard lives in Savannah, GA with his wife, daughter & son-in-law. Due to circumstances while he was working he is very limited to what he can do now, but still lives life as full as he can.