SIDNEY — Sidney Police Department’s (SPD) K-9 team gained a new member this fall with the addition of K-9 Officer Kash.
Kash, who is a 17-month-old German Shepherd, and his handler Officer Nick Zimmer have been partners since Friday, Aug. 10, when Kash arrived from Germany. The two went through training at Von Der Haus Gill German Shepherds Inc., which is owned by Master Trainer Al Gill, of Wapakoneta.
Zimmer and Kash officially began patrol together in October after six and a half weeks of training.
“When I got into law enforcement, this is what I wanted to do,” Zimmer said of becoming a K-9 handler. “This is my first time being a handler. I’ve had a dog my whole life. It’s been a lot of work. It’s still a lot of work. We do some kind of training every single day.”
Kash, who lives with the Zimmer family, is with Zimmer basically 24-hours a day, whether in his cage at home, on patrol and training at work, or in his specially adapted transport kennel in the rear of Zimmer’s police cruiser.
“It was a very surreal moment. It was huge,” Zimmer said he felt when Kash arrived at his home. “It was a huge moment. A lot of nerves was going on because that first weekend I wan’t allowed to discipline him at all. Even if he did wrong, I couldn’t discipline him for doing wrong. I had to wait for training to start before I could do that.”
Kash joins K-9 Kilo on the force. Kilo’s handler is Officer Jim Jennings. Kilo has been with the department for going on three years come February. Kash filled the open position after K-9 Duke retired in August. In retirement, Duke continues to live with his handler, Officer Rodney Robbins.
Zimmer, who has been with the SPD for five and half years, made his desire to become a K-9 handler known within his first year on the job. Zimmer said during that earlier time with the department, the SPD only had one K-9 (Duke) on third shift and knew they needed another. Although he understood he was not eligible to become a K-9 handler, since an officer must be with department for at least three years, he took initiative to conduct research to help find funds to purchase another K-9. Zimmer then presented his ideas to Police Chief Will Balling.
“I researched and came up with a budget and came up with some ideas, some of which were against the city’s policy — every city has a different policy — so, some of them weren’t able to be used, but I knew the chief used some of the ideas for money, and he also budgeted for a second dog,” Zimmer said.
Kilo was later added from grant funds and the help of donations from Shelby County AAA, Hubbard Feeds from Botkins, Shelby County United Way, Walmart, Cargill and Wilson Health. The next K-9 handler for the second dog, Kilo, was Jennings.
“He rightfully deserved (to get Kilo). He wanted the dog, and deserves it, and has done well with Kilo,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer said after Jennings and Kilo came to his shift, on second, he said he used them all of the time.
“A lot of what I do is based around drug arrests, so I called them in from off-duty more often than anybody else called them while on-duty or off-duty,” Zimmer said.
Using Jennings and Kilo, being one of the top three officers for drug arrests and likely showing interest during his first year with the department, Zimmer said, probably help helped him to become the next K-9 handler after Duke’s retirement.
Balling said no donations were used to obtain Kash. The cost of more than $15,000, for Kash, including training, and equipment, was fully funded from the city’s general budget.
With Duke’s pending retirement, Zimmer learned he would be the next handler in the spring. Balling said Kash was needed because they like to have two K-9 units with the department to spread over a 16-hour span.
“Both Nick and Kash are doing amazing job right now. They both have been very eager to start. Both of them have been quick learners of the duties that they need to do. And they both have been aggressive in trying to seek out drugs and different types of violations to try to get it off the streets,” Balling said. “They’ve really been productive in their short span and we are seeing amazing results.”
Kash has several duties, including tracking, narcotic detection, building/article searches, evidence searches and apprehensions. As of the end of November, Kash had been used 20 times to conduct three tracks and a couple of building searches during his first month in a half on the job.
Zimmer hopes to work as a team with Kash for 10 years. Kash is certified member of the department. If someone tries to harm a K-9, the person will face criminal charges. Currently Kash and Zimmer work from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Balling said, “The cost (for Kash) was a little bit more than ($15,000), but it was definitely worth it because if they can stop some drugs from coming into Sidney, or while they are in Sidney prevent somebody from becoming addicted or overdosing and possibly dying, it’s well worth it.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.