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PD hopes to raise funds for new K-9 officer

A love of dogs led Patrolman Derek Oates to become the latest member of the Marysville Police Departments K-9 unit. He is joined here by new partner, Ranger. -
A love of dogs led Patrolman Derek Oates to become the latest member of the Marysville Police Departments K-9 unit. He is joined here by new partner, Ranger.
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MARYSVILLE On Feb. 25, K-9 officer Shadow became the first such officer to retire from the city police department.
After approximately eight years of service, Shadow received a commendation from the City Council honoring his work and will spend the rest of his days in the care of his long-time human partner, Patrolman John Hendrickson.
In the meantime, police officials are looking to raise about $15,000 for the purchase and training of Shadows replacement, Ranger.
K-9 is the only unit in the police department that has to raise its own funds, said Patrolman Stacey Dreyer, a K-9 officer himself, partnered with tracking dog, Radar. Shadow was also used by police for tracking and Ranger will become a tracker as well. Radar, Shadow and rookie Ranger all are German shepherds. Marysville police have one other four-legged officer, Brady, a chocolate lab. Brady is the forces resident narcotics dog.
Ranger arrived in Marysville about a month ago and quickly was partnered with Patrolman Derek Oates. At 14 months old, Ranger comes from Von Grunheide Shepherds in Snohomish. Even without having been paid for him, the kennel agreed to let Marysville police take possession of the dog.
Thats a huge thing for them to do, to hand over a $7,000 dog without any money changing hands, Dreyer said, adding the plan is to pay the kennel as funds become available. Dollars collected above the purchase price will go toward equipment and Rangers extensive training.
Oates figures he and his new charge will go through about 400 to 500 hours of instruction.
I love dogs, he said by way of explaining his interest in becoming a canine officer. He said that so far he and Ranger have spent a lot of time getting to know one another.
Theres certainly a bonding time, Im trying to build that sense of trust, Oates said.
The next steps will be more and more obedience training. Oates added that he is going, of course, through some training as well.
The learning curve here is enormous, he said. After six years on the force, Oates said he believes he knows the in and outs of most police work pretty well. But he also feels as if he is now, to a certain extent, a rookie all over again, starting back at square one.
Like Radar and other police dogs, Ranger lives with Oates and his family. Dreyer said the dogs act like any other family pet when not on duty.
Theyre pretty much taught to have an on and off switch, Dreyer said, adding the minute he puts Radars harness on the dog, the animal knows its time to go to work. For tracking dogs, as you might expect, work often means chasing suspects. The dogs are available for mutual aid to other departments and how busy they stay just depends on the demand for their services.
On the eve of the interview for this story, Dreyer said he and Radar responded to a call for help from Granite Falls officials who were trying to track down a known felon. According to Dreyer, Radar made quick work of the situation, leading police to the house where the man was hiding.
To me, theres nothing more rewarding than finding the bad guy, Dreyer said. He remembers quite a few tracking escapades with Radar, though he doesnt know if any are more special than others.
Any time you find the (suspect,) its memorable, Dreyer said, adding some searches take only minutes, while others can go on for hours.
Dreyer is one of the driving forces behind Marysvilles K-9 unit. He put together a formal proposal for bringing in the dogs in 1999. In some ways, he has an almost philosophical approach to his partner and his job.
Its stressful and confusing sometimes, Dreyer said. He (Radar) has his own mind. And he doesnt speak English.
Local officers make an eight-year commitment to the program, after which time their dogs are retired and they themselves move on to other duties.
How are dogs picked for police work? Dreyer said kennels used to dealing with police dogs make the initial selections, suggesting dogs that might be worthy. He noted the dogs and their handlers have to be a good match or the partnership just wont work.
If he (the handler) is strong and aggressive, the dog needs to be strong and aggressive, Dreyer said.
Anyone looking to help the K-9 unit reach its fund raising goals can drop off donations at Marysville City Hall or the city police station, 1635 Grove St. For more information, call 360-363-8300, ext. 8371. Send e-mails to doates@ci.marysville.wa.us.

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