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Sheriff’s Newest Deputy Earning His Keep

By Staff | Oct 28, 2008

NEWEST OFFICER’S SUCCESS - Rakker, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office’s newest K-9 officer, is doing his part to combat the drug trade in the county. -- Dan Voigt photo

With a new deputy sheriff on the job at the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office for a little over 60 days, there has been some positive results from his work. That deputy is the department’s K-9 officer, Rakker, who, along with his handler, Deputy Eric Ring, are doing their part to, pardon the expression, take a bite of their own out of the drug trade in the county.

Rakker, a four-year-old Belgian Malanois, has already been involved in several drug cases in his limited time on the job.

“Since we brought Rakker on board, he has assisted our department in several seizures of drugs and related property,” noted Deputy Eric Ring. “His first case involved the seizure of a substance belived to be crystal meth, as well as a vehicle and cash being used by a suspect in narcotics trafficking.”

Rakker has basic training in suspect apprehension and handler protection, as well as building searches, evidence recovery, tracking individuals and narcotics detection, along with agility and obedience. With those skills, the dog has been involved in several searches in the past few weeks.

“We have assisted the Emmetsburg Police Department in the execution of a couple of search warrants,” Ring noted. “He’s also been out on a call of a burglary in progress. When we arrived on the scene, the suspect gave up immediately, once he learned the dog was ready to enter the building where he was. He respected the dog – and that’s a good thing.”

With the sheriff’s office making a commitment to do all it could to combat the ongoing illegal sale and use of drugs in the area, the acquisition of a trained K-9 was essential to being able to carry out that commitment.

“The driving reason to acquire a dog was to give the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office an ongoing, aggressive anti-drug effort in the county,” Sheriff Dennis Goeders said. “We figured it would take us around $18,000 to be able to purchase a canine like Rakker. But, we were very fortunate to have the support of the residents of Palo Alto County as we raised funds to purchase the dog.”

“Fighting drugs is a slow process,” noted Chief Deputy Todd Suhr. “We have to investigate, apprehend and convict and having a dog trained in narcotics detention helps give us a tool to fill in the gaps.”

According to Suhr ,a drug investigation can take a year or more for an officer, but with a dog, results can be realized much quicker.

“Officers can miss a lot in the interim of a drug investigation, but a dog picks up the slack,” said Suhr. “A dog as the ability to do what a deputy can’t – smell out the drugs.”

While Rakker resembles a German Shephard, he is actually a Belgian Malanois, a breed used extensively in law enforcement circles. Since the breed originated in Belgium, part of the training for both the dog and handler are language lessons.

“I have to be bilingual,” Deputy Ring admitted. “All of Rakker’s commands are spoken in Dutch.”

The duo will patrol Palo Alto County and will respond when situations require the assistance or intervention of the dog. But, his primary mission will be to aid in the fight against illegal drugs throughout the county.