Dowagiac purchases new K-9

Earlier this month, the leadership of the Dowagiac Police Department selected Tole, a 3-year-old German Shepard, to serve as the department’s new police dog. (Submitted photo)

Earlier this month, the leadership of the Dowagiac Police Department selected Tole, a 3-year-old German Shepard, to serve as the department’s new police dog. (Submitted photo)

Thanks to the generosity of Starks Funeral Homes, the Dowagiac Police Department recently recruited another German officer into its ranks.

A German Shepard officer, to be more precise.

Earlier this month, department leadership announced it had selected a new four-legged member to join the force, 3-year-old Tole (pronounced toe-lee). The canine will partner with officer Kevin Roman as the department’s new K-9 unit, with the two expected to begin helping safeguard Dowagiac’s streets beginning late July, said Director of Public Safety Steve Grinnewald.

Tole will replace the department’s previous K-9, Cessy, who retired last summer after 10 years of duty working with her handler, Sgt. Dave Davis.

At the time of Cessy’s retirement, Grinnewald was unsure as to whether or not the department would bring in another K-9 to replace her, as purchasing police dogs can be quite pricey, he said. After kicking around the idea, he decided to pursue it, he said.

“I thought we had a good program before,” he said. “It’s very popular in terms of public relations, as people just love seeing the dog. In terms of operations, there’s a need for it, in terms of tracking down missing people or detecting narcotics suspects may be hiding.”

In order to finance the purchase, Grinnewald reached out to Starks Funeral Homes owner Tom Starks, who had assisted the department with other projects in the past, the police chief said. Following their conservation, the business owner decided to pay for the entire program, Grinnewald said.

After selecting Roman to serve as handler for the new dog, department administrators worked with Blue Line Police K-9 to select the animal to serve alongside the Dowagiac officer. After seeing Roman in action with eight different dogs, the department decided to go with Tole, Grinnewald said.

Right now, Tole is working with trainers at Blue Line, who are developing his skills in tracking, narcotics detection and defense, Grinnewald said. Around the middle of June, Roman will begin a five-week training session alongside Tole, to prep the two to begin working in the field together later this summer, Grinnewald said.

“As they train together, they’ll begin to bond and get to know each other,” Grinnewald said.

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