GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department has two new K-9 units joining the ranks.
Officer Pete Thompson is partnered with Leo, a 15-month-old Dutch shepard, who is trained in explosive detection and patrol functions, according to a GRPD news release.
Leo is replacing Kilo, who retired in September and was partnered with Thompson. Kilo is spending his retirement with the Thompson family and Leo, according to the police department.
Thompson said he has enjoyed having K-9s as partners over the years and wanted to continue in that role with Leo.
“We don’t argue about the heat, although this one right now, he has expressed a concern of having the back window down quite a bit,” Thompson said.
Officer Kenny Nawrocki is partnered with Ace, an 11-month-old Belgian Malinois trained in explosive detection and patrol functions. Ace is the youngest dog to join GRPD’s K-9 team and is replacing Bosco, who died in July from an undetected medical issue, the news release said.
Both Ace and Leo passed their certifications and started working this week.
The department has four dogs trained to detect explosives and four narcotics dogs. GRPD said it is able to keep costs to run the program much lower than other departments.
“Training them, it’s all done in-house,” Nawrocki said. “If we were to buy this dog and go through a training program, it would probably be 20 to 30 grand.”
The officers say the dogs can make a big impact in protecting and serving the community.
“It creates a safer environment for us police officers, safety for the whole city and safety for the suspects, too … if we have a dog that’s barking and can use that as a deterrent,” Nawrocki said.
When the work is over, the job of caring for the dogs is not finished.
“They’re with us for 12 hours on shift. We go home, let him out, feed him. Our days off, we’re with him, let him out, playing fetch, so there’s never really a day off,” Nawrocki said.
The police department said 4-year-old Dozer, who was hurt during a line-of-duty Aug. 4 crash, is still receiving physical therapy. Dozer experienced a severe spinal injury that paralyzed his hind legs. It isn’t clear whether Dozer will be able to return to duty.