Trace with Mrs. Geissler’s class
The Sawyer County Sheriff’s Department set out to raise funds for a K-9 program beginning in 2012 after recognizing the need for a program. By the following winter, enough funds had been raised through donations generously provided by municipalities, businesses, and private citizens; the department was able to secure a spot at the St. Paul Police Department’s K-9 school. Upon being selected to the handler position, a German Sheppard was purchased through the St. Paul PD and brought here from Slovakia. I attended three months of rigorous training with my new partner, Trace, and returned that fall for another month of training. Trace is a dual purpose dog having been trained in the areas of criminal apprehension, tracking, handler protection, obedience, narcotics detection, and other areas needed for a working dog in a rural area such as Sawyer County. Trace and I continue to train almost daily to stay fresh on our skills.
Law enforcement agencies in Sawyer County are constantly trying to identify and apprehend the individuals committing crimes, however by the nature of our business the suspect often flees prior to or just as we arrive. The introduction of a properly trained police canine team has greatly assisted in apprehending these individuals or deterring them from fleeing. One common miss conception of police canines is that they are attack dogs. This is not the case. Trace is certainly trained to make apprehensions however it is on command and used with great consideration. He is a friendly dog that has been around literally hundreds of kids both in and out of school classrooms. One of the most common questions I receive is what exactly do police canines do and why are they so beneficial. The following are some of the most common situations in which Trace is used:
- There has been and continues to be a presence of drugs in the communities we live and work in. Even the criminal element recognizes that a K-9 team is still the most effective and efficient way to detect these harmful substances. Through apprehension, this team helps hold those accountable who choose to distribute or possess narcotics. The impacts of these narcotics are sending our kids to hospitals, destroying lives of individuals and families, and are often the foundation for other crimes.
- K-9s are fast and efficient in searching for both criminals or missing persons by means of tracking or open air scenting. Tracking is crucial when law enforcement is called to missing children and elderly persons as well as individuals who have just committed a crime and fled the scene on foot. Sawyer County has an abundance of forest land and lakes and months of harsh weather conditions. When victims need help, time can be of the essence. A K-9 has the qualities unimaginable to man, qualities necessary for quick recoveries.
- The psychological deterrent of a K-9 is the hardest to measure. Typically, they are loved by citizens and feared by criminals. Proven time and time again nationwide, the mere presence of a K-9 will cause most criminals to stop and comply with officers. When compliance is gained, it reduces both officer and suspect injuries. Multiple suspects have told me and other officers that they will comply as long as I don’t let the dog loose.
- Trace is involved in supporting high risk warrant arrests, building searches on alarms and open doors, assisting out of county agencies, and is an asset to the Community Policing concept scene when he is in the schools for visits, demonstrations, etc.
The need for a police K-9 and the reasons to support it could go on and on. There is no doubt that Sawyer County needs to maintain a K-9 team. Our only setback is the financial means to continue funding of the program currently and for future teams when Trace retires. To begin the program from the ground up, we had to raise over $20,000 which the community came together and hugely supported. On average, it costs $2000.00 a year to maintain the program. This cost includes things associated with owning any pet such as food and trips to the vet. It also includes annually certification with the United States Police Canine Association, training, and equipment costs. The amount of work Trace performs for me, other officers, and the community comes at a very small price tag. Currently, there is no room in the county’s budget for the program. I am reaching out to area businesses and citizens alike who may want to help support this invaluable program. If you wish to make a contribution, there is an account set up titled Sawyer County K-9 Account that is used only for K-9 related costs ensuring all the donations raised stay with the program. Any contribution to this program is also tax deductible.
Sgt. Al-Moghrabi, Trace, and Training Decoy Deputy Amber Al-Moghrabi with Trace’s badge collar donated by Sophie’s Dog Bakery.
A special thank you to all the local residents, businesses, and municipalities for their countless donations and support of this program!
Donations can be made to the program in person, by mail, or through GoFundMe at: http://www.gofundme.com/r44c4c98
If you have questions regarding the Canine Initiative, what the role of Sgt. Al-Moghrabi and Trace will be, or any other questions you are encouraged to contact the following:
Sgt. Nick Al-Moghrabi #392
Chief Deputy Kornbroke
Or use our contact form by clicking here.