By Janet Skinner
“We’ve had several incidents with some of the surrounding agencies, state patrol and other sheriff departments finding drugs on traffic stops lately,” Officer Christopher Anderson stated when discussing the K-9 unit that will be joining the Gordon Police Department soon.
Anderson, originally from Fremont, Neb., has been with the Gordon Police Department since 2009 and is also in the National Guard. He had no hesitation when deciding to partner up with a K-9. Anderson explained that he will go to Kansas for a three week training course where he will be paired up with different dogs to train in areas of obedience training, case law, tracking and locating drugs and explosives. At the end of training he then will have a dog paired with him. Anderson will also have to complete a separate state patrol certification. Upon returning to the Gordon Police Department, each month he will be required to do 16 hours of training with his dog which involves tracking exercises and locating drugs and explosives. The dog will have no attack training.
Sherry Retzlaff, counselor at GRHS, had been working on applying for grants to help cover the cost for the K-9 unit and was able to receive three so far. The grants, which are The Nebraska Crime Commission State County Aid, Local Wal-Mart grant, County Drug Dollars and K-9 Working Dog International grant, will cover the cost of training.
“Its a preventive measure,” Lori Liggett, principal at GRHS, explained when talking about the benefits K-9 units bring to schools. “The kids find the whole career field interesting,” she added. The dog will be able to use the school for training purposes and also help build relationships between students and the police department.
“Getting the police force to get to know the elementary kids at that level, even just visiting with their drug dog from time to time, that’s setting up a relationship and those are important relationships before they ever get to high school,” Retzlaff remarked.
Another benefit to the addition of a K-9 unit to the police department and the people of our area is assistance with search and rescue situations. “We live in a large geographical area with a sparse population base. We have a lot of farms and ranches that people can have accidents, get lost or hurt. This would be a major assistance in being able to address those kinds of issues. We want to be able to provide that kind of service throughout the area,” City Manager Fred Hlava stated.
The K-9 unit will serve all of Sheridan County and will assist when needed to parts of southern South Dakota and surrounding areas.