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Coffee with a Cop shows canine capabilities

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Photos by Cheyenne Makinia/Fourth Estate

Public Safety Officer Chad Kleman acts as decoy for K-9 unit dog, Racky. Kleman stands up slowly as Racky is commanded to stay next to him.

Amber Schilling , Life Editor
April 1, 2014
Filed under Life, Top Stories

Coffee with a Cop hosted a demonstration of the Brown County Sheriff Office’s K-9 Unit in the Phoenix Rooms on March 27.

Students were invited to attend — with the incentive of a 20 percent discount coupon for the Common Grounds Coffeehouse  — to be educated on the K-9 unit and its role in the Green Bay area and UW-Green Bay campus.

Public Safety Officer Chad Kleman organized the event to inform students about the purpose of the K-9 unit and how it may be used with Public Safety.

“There may be a few occasions that we will have a canine working here on campus,” Kleman said. “We wanted to have an outreach to students so they know that the dogs are used to assist on investigations and they are not a fear factor.”

Kleman said dogs could be used in the event of a bomb threat or a narcotics investigation on campus.

Brown Co. K-9 Unit Deputy Zachary Roush then led the event with time for questions before he demonstrated his work with his dog, Racky. Students and other guests were interested in what work the dogs do, what kinds of dogs the K-9 unit has and more specific information about Roush’s dog.

Roush has worked with Racky for a little more than four years and the training is ongoing.

“Obedience is the most important part of our work,” Roush said. “I give him no leeway.”

However, during the stay command, Racky inched closer to Roush when his back was turned. When Roush commanded Racky to go back to his place, he whimpered.

The commands for Racky were in Dutch because he is from northern Belgium.

“The dog is smart,” said Shelle Makinia, sophomore communication major, who attended the event. “He’s bilingual.”

Roush demonstrated some basic commands.

There was no bite work demonstrated because Racky had dental work done the day before, but Roush did demonstrate how Racky reacts to finding a suspect.

Kleman wore a protective sleeve and was used as a decoy for Racky. Roush commanded Racky to go get Kleman in Dutch and Racky ran up to Kleman and barked until Roush told him to stop.

Racky was trained to attack someone when he found them, but would react to the suspect. If the suspect was aggressive toward Racky, he would attack more, and if the suspect was passive, like Kleman, he would bark.

The demonstration showed attendees what the K-9 unit dogs are trained for and that they are working members of the Sheriff’s Department, not pets. Overall, the event showed the role of the dogs in the community to assist officers with investigations and help find suspects.

The Brown Co. K-9 Unit currently has five dogs, four of which are dual purpose. They do searches and patrol work, meaning they assist on investigations to find criminals or other things.

Two dogs are used for narcotics searches and two are specifically for explosives. One dog, a Springer Spaniel named Sammy, is used only for narcotics.

As for the breeds of dogs, the K-9 unit has three Belgian Malinois, which are similar to German Shepherds, but slightly smaller. Roush’s dog, Racky, is one of those Belgian Malinois. They also have one German Shepherd.

The dogs are from Europe because the sports and protective work the dogs do is a great transition to police work, according to Roush. Their current dogs are from Germany, Belgium and France.

When they get the dogs, they are anywhere from 1 to 3 years old because they are mature enough to handle the work and training. They are sent to New Mexico where they undergo six weeks of intense training before returning home.

According to Roush, officers and their dogs often form deep bonds. Roush said Racky once didn’t eat for four days while he was away on vacation.

When police dogs retire, there are two options, Roush said. In one case, they are put down due to liability. Though retired, they still act like a police dog, which could be potentially dangerous if adopted by people inexperienced with these dogs.

In most cases, however, the dogs are adopted by their officers and live the remainder of their lives as family pets.