German Shepherd puppy Chase is now officially a K-9 officer with the Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Division. The newest, and furriest, member of the K-9 unit was sworn in on January 28 during the Board of Park Commissioners meeting and then introduced to media and a group of excited fifth graders from Valley View Elementary School in Cleveland during a program at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
The puppy's handler, Ranger Will Collins, introduced 12-week-old, 25 pound Chase to the students and explained how he and Chase will be partners for life.
Chase, who was born on November 2, 2014, has already started his training, but the Rangers are careful not to rush it. The amount of time it takes for a dog to be certified in the field depends on a number of factors and varies from dog to dog. Ranger dogs begin with narcotics detection training, before moving on to apprehension and building search training all of which can take about a year.
Rico joined the Ranger Department in early 2013 at the age of eight weeks. He and his handler, Ranger Mike Barr, have spent the past year training and acclimating to the other dogs in the K-9 Unit. Ranger Barr picked the name "Rico" in honor of another dog Barr knew in a law enforcement organization where he previously worked.
The law enforcement tradition of having the handler name the dog is vital to the lifelong bond the two of them will share. The dog will live with Barr 24-7 for the rest of its life. Due to the age and career experience level of most officers that become handlers, and the longevity of a dog's life, many handlers will only get to be partnered with one K-9 officer in their career.
Rico joins the Rangers' two other active duty K-9 officers, Logan and Gambit, in the field. All of the K-9 officers in the division, including retired K-9 Radar and retired K-9 Rocky, were donated by police dog trainer Tom Schmidt, founder of Buckeye Area Regional K-9 Training Unit, or BARK for short. The length of time spent preparing for active duty will depend on a number of factors.
"The amount of time it takes to train a K-9 officer completely depends on the dog and the handler," said the head of the Ranger’s K-9 unit, acting Capt. Sean Flanigan. "We start with narcotics and detection first, which could take up to nine months. Then after the dog becomes a little more mature, we move on to apprehension training, which could take up to a year and a half. We don’t rush it, it’s very intense training."
Gambit was born December 24, 2012 and was sworn in as a Cleveland Metroparks Ranger K-9 six weeks later on February 7, 2013.
Gambit’s handler, Ranger Michael Kort, says the dog has a very promising future. His training is going well and he is now certified to detect odors of narcotics, tracking and article recovery. Only one week after certification Gambit was credited with his first drug arrest and successful tracking as Rangers worked with another local police department to solve a crime.
Being a Cleveland Metroparks Ranger K-9 is in Logan’s blood as he comes from a long line of Ranger K-9s. His father is our very own Radar, and his uncle is our beloved Rocky. Logan is 3 years old and has two certifications: all purpose and patrol. His handler is Sergeant Tim Garris.
From the very beginning, Logan showed strong instincts. On his first track Logan found a burglar approximately one mile from his car near Judges Lake. Logan is also credited with Cuyahoga County’s largest crack cocaine bust during a traffic stop. Logan has assisted in numerous successful tracks resulting in arrests and locating lost juveniles. He also helps local law enforcement agencies when needed and continues to excel in his day to day patrol.
Logan and Sgt. Garris have earned several honors and awards including the Spot Award for Track and Find, Felony Award from Cleveland Metroparks Rangers, OVI Top Cop Award and MADD Top Cop.
Rocky, born March 25, 2005, retired Fall 2014 after 9 1/2 years of service. He had worked as a Ranger K-9 officer since he was a puppy. During his time on duty, Rocky held two state certifications: 1) Specialties: narcotics, tracking and article/evidence search, and 2) Patrol: handler protection, criminal apprehension, obedience, building search and open area searches. He also held a national certification from North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA).
Rocky received the 2006 German Shepherd Dog Club of Northern Ohio Award for tracking during a bank robbery case; he located the weapon, recovered the cash and apprehended the suspect all in the same day.
Radar retired in October 2012 after 10 1/2 years of service with his handler Lieutenant Sean Flanigan. During his illustrious career Radar was the recipient of a silver medal in the Ohio Police and Fire Olympics. The German Shepherd Dog Club of Northern Ohio recognized him on five occasions for apprehension and tracking narcotics.
Lt. Flanigan says there are many memorable events including large cash and drug seizures, but what he remembers most is how much kids loved to see Radar do his favorite trick, open his own car door. Lt. Flanigan said, "working with Radar was the greatest thing I have done in my police career."
In Radar's 10-½ years of
service, he earned multiple awards excelling in tracking, narcotics detection and pursuit/apprehension. He also worked
closely with specialized drug task force units, and had a number of notable
Cleveland Metroparks Rangers Division founded its K-9 unit in 2002 when Ranger Sean Flanigan became its first K-9 handler with his partner, Radar (retired). Ranger Robert Pofok followed Flanigan as the second K-9 handler with his partner, Rocky (retired).
Now a Captain in the division, Flanigan heads up the Ranger’s K-9 unit, which currently includes Sgt. Tim Garris and K-9 Logan, Ranger Michael Kort and K-9 Gambit, Ranger Michael Barr and K-9 Rico, and the newest members of the unit Ranger Will Collins and his K-9 puppy Chase.
The K-9 unit patrols the entire Park District and specializes in locating missing people, apprehending fleeing suspects and detecting illegal drugs. Members of the unit continuously update their skills through weekly training exercises, statewide instruction and national training conferences. The award-winning unit has an outstanding reputation and neighboring police departments regularly request their assistance, including the U.S. Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration. The K-9 unit also draws upon its unique public appeal to promote safety and crime prevention at Cleveland Metroparks events and community outreach opportunities.
All six of the Rangers’ dogs have been provided free of charge by Tom and Kathy Schmidt, owners of Schmidt’s of Macedonia and coordinators of the Buckeye Area Regional K-9 (BARK). The K-9s, all German shepherds, come from a bloodline that has worked well for the Rangers according to Schmidt. Radar, 13, and Rocky, 10, are half-brothers from the same father. Logan, 3, is Radar’s son, which makes Rocky his uncle. Rocky gained another half-brother when Gambit (now 2) joined the unit, as they share the same mother. Radar’s legacy continues with his grandsons Rico (now 1) and puppy Chase.
Radar retired in October 2012 after a very distinguished career. He was credited with seizing nearly $2 million in drugs and cash, and was presented with a certificate of commendation from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown upon his retirement. Rocky retired in 2014 and was credited with multiple letters of commendation and appreciation.