ROWLEY -- What started out as a one-time photo shoot two years ago for Rowley resident James Corbett has turned into the beginning of the former Los Angeles resident's soon-to-be released first book, "Solemn Vow."
The photograph, depicting a police K-9 dog suffering from cancer, was shot in Los Angeles and lead to other police departments requesting he photograph their dogs for promotional purposes.
From there it just snowballed to the point where Corbett, a FBI agent out of the Boston office, began touring the country. Along the way, Corbett visited the Newburyport Police Department where he spoke to K-9 officer Eric Marshall and photographed he and his partner, Epic.
Epic and Marshall are among those K-9 units depicted in Corbett's coffee table book, due to be released April 18. In addition to being available on Amazon.com, the book can be bought at multiple Newburyport stores. All proceeds will go to the Los Angeles-based National Police Dog Association, according to Corbett.
In many cases, police departments, including Newburyport, are able to secure seed money to start K-9 programs through federal or state grants. Seed money is then subsidized through local contributions and sometimes within a police department's budget. But in many cases, funding dries up leaving communities faced with dismantling the programs or transferring money from other budget items. Another expense is faced by the handlers who care for their furry partners after they retire.
"I get a lot of enjoyment of helping them and helping offset the cost," Corbett said.
Describing the book, Corbett called it a coffee table book with photos on one page and descriptions and stories on the other. Some of the stories detail amazing feats like saving a man burning in a fire or helping locate missing children.
Corbett said his wife's career as a veterinarian served as the catalyst for the book saying that during her practice in Los Angeles, she would care for numerous K-9 dogs. One day, the handler of a K-9 dog in need of medical care asked Corbett to take its photograph for his police department.
The results were so good that other area departments requested the same thing. Eventually, Corbett was contacted by the National Police Dog Association which asked him whether he would be willing to create a calendar for the organization.
"I just do this, volunteer my time," Corbett said.
From the calendar came the idea of creating a book. For that to happen, Corbett began visiting police stations across the nation. Among the stops he made were Idaho, Nashville, Greensboro N.C. a Vermont State Police barracks, and Newburyport. In all he visited 25 states and photgraphed more than 60 dogs.
"Some of the stories are sad, some of the dogs died in the line of duty," Corbett said, adding that some of the stories were funny and uplifting too.
One of the most memorable stops was last May in Washington D.C. during National Police Week. But instead of profiling a K-9 team, Corbett brought many of his photos and sold them to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. He also donated funds to honor K-9 dog who died throughout a years time.
As for his visit with the Newburyport Police Department, Corbett called Marshall and Epic "a great team." Marshall and Epic became the department's first K-9 team in January.
"I think it's a good thing he's doing, giving back to a charitable organization," Marshall said.
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