NEW BREMEN – There is a new, rather hairy, member of the New Bremen police force who answers to the name of Doc.
The 14-month-old, German-born, 75-pounder joined the force, April 27. Handler/Officer Justin Bruns said it is exciting to have this new member, a highly-trained German shepherd police dog, patrolling the streets with him at night. New Bremen Police Chief Mike Skinner says Doc’s narcotic detection training will help the force work proactively in keeping drug activity to a minimum to the best of their ability.
“Over the past three years, we have seen an increase in drug-related crimes,” said Skinner. “In 2015, we had one overdose of illegal drugs, and in 2016 we had three overdoses involving illegal drugs. The canine is not only trained in narcotics detection, it can also track people or items.” Skinner said that in the past, they have used other departments’ canines on traffic stops, school walk-throughs and demonstrations at community events.
“We had an officer in the department that we thought would do an excellent job as a canine handler, and he lives inside the village so he will be close if called out while off duty,” Skinner said.
To prepare for this police work, Doc and Bruns completed six weeks of training at the Von der Haus Gill German Shepherds near Wapakoneta. The Von der Haus Gill company deals exclusively with imported lines of German shepherds, which are said to be closer to the original working dog temperament, rather than show dog temperament of American line shepherds.
Bruns said he is glad for the opportunity to be the handler for this new police asset. He added that he and his wife had carefully considered the obligation of Doc’s around-the-clock care, but both had worked around dogs, especially German shepherds, all their lives, so they are confident of their decision. Doc’s working life is expected to be around 8 to 10 years, but he will stay with the Bruns family permenantly.
Because Doc’s original training was overseas, he learned his commands in German. As such, Bruns’s canine training included learning about 10 German commands. The training included not only regular patrol and guard training, but also the ability to search for narcotics, tracking lost items or people and building searches.
According to Skinner, the entire cost to add Doc to the police force was $80,000, which included purchase of the dog, specialized training and a specially equipped Chevy Tahoe. Skinner added that $57,500 to acquire the dog had been donated by people who supported the idea of a police dog. Doc’s services in the community will include mutual aid to other communities, if requested.
Doc and Bruns will be at the May 19 open house for the new New Bremen police building from noon to 3 p.m., demonstrating Doc’s skills.