Clintonville has new K-9 cop
Thor’s work duties include community outreaach
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville Police Department acquired a new K-9 oficer.
Thor reported for duty on Oct. 11.
Officer Cody Rollin, who has been with the Clintonville Police Department for 5 1/2 years, told the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette that there were a lot of reasons he wanted to become a K-9 handler.
“I’m a big dog lover, but at the same time it’s a huge asset to the community,” Rollin said. “It’s a huge tool, not only to bring the community together because it’s easy to talk about (dogs) and build that relationship with somebody, with little kids, anything like that. You’re more approachable, but also to take the narcotics off the street and clean up the community a little bit more.”
He added, “I always wanted to do it, but never thought the opportunity would come along just because our past K-9 handler was a great handler.”
Wehn the previous K-9 handler, Chistopher Wendorf, left the department, Police Chief Craig Freitag told the Tribune-Gazette that Clintonville planned get another K-9 officer, and recruit a handler from its current pool of officers.
That’s when Rollin submitted a letter of interest to become the department’s K-9 handler. Multiple officers from the department submitted letters of interest, which prompted an interview process that Rollin said was “pretty intense.”
The interview process consisted of interviewing with a panel of K-9 handlers from other police departments. It also included visiting the kennel where the department would purchase the K-9 officer from.
“It was nice to see the training tactics that that trainer was using. It was nice to meet him ahead of time to get a gauge on his personality, how he does things, how you can fit in and how you can learn from him,” Rollin said. “I ended up bringing my wife down so she could see because obviously being in law enforcement she’s been exposed to a lot but this is both new to us. It was nice for her to get a lot of those questions she had answered and see a lot of what they do and how they do it.”
Once selected to be the handler, Rollin said he provided input as to which dog would be selected. Rollin and Freitag visited the kennel, where some dogs were preselected for consideration. The skills of the dogs were then shown to Rollin and Freitag.
“After he (trainer) showcases the dogs, he allows you to spend some time with them, take them for a walk and mess around with them to see if they are warming up to you,” Rollin said. “Obviously, the dogs don’t know who you are at first, so it’s that period you figure them out a little bit.”
Rollin said the department settled on Thor.
“It pretty much clicked with him which is nice, he warmed up to me right away,” Rollin said.
Then it was time for Rollin and Thor to train to handle all the duties a K-9 officer and handler must perform. It involved five weeks of training, five days a week, in Iron Ridge.
“It went really well. Obviously, the dogs are learning, and we’re learning,” Rollin said. “The dogs pretty much have it down pat, but it was for us per se because there are a lot of different tricks that you can do and stuff like that to make sure the dog is learning. You don’t want to overdo something because you can mess up the dog. It was a little nerve racking at first, but once you got it down pat and everything it started to click for us, and it clicked with the dogs right away.”
At the completion of training, Thor was trained in article searches, tracking, detection, apprehension and officer protection.
The training isn’t done, though, as Rollin and Thor must maintain at least 16 hours of training each month. Some of this training can be done during their work shift.
Rollin admitted that “it was different” the first shift he and Thor were on duty with the department.
“Going from training to now it’s the real deal. I have the dog and we still have to go do our calls and do some extra training,” Rollin said.
Thor will be with Rollin all the time when Rollin is on duty.
Rollin said everything has gone well so far when he and Thor have been on duty.
“He always wants to work,” Rollin said of Thor. “I bring him home and he still wants to work.”
The goal is to use Thor as much as possible to help keep the community safe.
“Like any community, a lot of people don’t realize or hear what all goes on, especially when it comes to drugs and stuff like that, so, our goal is to attack that as much as possible and try to make the community a little bit safer place,” Rollin said.
Freitag said a K-9 officer is very beneficial to the police department.
“Generally, people think the only thing a K-9 does is alerting to narcotics,” Freitag said. “A dog can be beneficial for tracking suspects, lost individuals, locating evidence, and community outreach events.”
Both Rollin and Freitag said the department plans to introduce Thor to the community at different events.
Freitag said it cost $15,000 to purchase Thor and provide the training for the dog and his handler. He added that the department’s K-9 officer program is funded by donations and fundraising.
“We are very thankful for the support of the community to make this happen,” Freitag said. “Please reach out to the police department if you would like to meet Thor.”