This press release came in to The Waynedale News on October 31, 2005.
‘Two male suspects dressed in all black and wearing ski masks approached the Pinnacle Federal Credit Union, 3425 Hobson Road at 1:52 p.m. The employees were able to lock entry doors to the credit union prior to the subjects gaining entry. The two suspects fled the scene southbound on Hobson Road in a blue Oldsmobile Ciera. A short time later, on-duty Detective Delonza Myles observed a vehicle matching the description and followed them until marked units arrived. The Olds stopped and the two suspects fled on foot. One was apprehended immediately and the other crossed a railroad track in front of a passing train, temporarily eluding capture. Witnesses advised officers that a male subject ran into a residence in the 3000 block of McDonald Street. K-9 Rico, a ten-year veteran of the Fort Wayne Police Department, along with his partner, Officer Bob Theurer traced the subject to a back bedroom of a residence where the suspect was apprehended.’
The Waynedale News talked to Master Trainer Officer Kevin Weber on Wednesday, November 2 to learn more about the Police K-9 program.
Officer Weber has been with the FWPD for 25 years and has been training police dogs since 1986. He explained that there are only about 35 master trainers in the world and two of them are right here in Fort Wayne. The trainers are accredited NAPWDA (National American Police Work Dog Association). The dogs are purchased from a vendor that supplies dogs from all over the world, including Czechoslovakia, Germany and the Netherlands. Weber may choose one or two dogs out of a possible ten from a vendor. He occasionally gets a dog from the Humane Shelter but he may go through a hundred dogs looking for one with the proper disposition and personality that is trainable to his specifications. Although German Shepards are the most popular type of dog, almost any breed can be trained. Dutch Shepards and Malinious, a Belgium breed, are very adept at police work. The dogs have the uncanny ability to discern over 600 different scents. They can be trained to be utility dogs, meaning they can be used for tracking and searching, narcotics, explosives or cadaver search but it is best to have each dog specialize in an individual field.
The dogs start the training program at 18 months. The dog and the officer that will be partnered with the dog go through a 13-week training period. Officers bid into the K-9 program and it usually takes 8 or 9 years of service for an officer to make it in. The dogs not only spend time with the officer while on-duty, they also go home to be with the officers family during their off-duty time. “They are family members, but not pets,” said Officer Weber. “They have kennel facilities built onto their property and are kept there while not directly involved in family activities.” K-9 Rico is just one of the success stories to come out of the Fort Wayne Police K-9 Unit, nabbing the bad guys and providing another tool in Fort Wayne crime prevention.