SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – There are two new officers joining the Sioux City Police Department (SCPD). Combined, these new recruits have eight legs.
“The K9 Unit is the best part of the department but it is the most time-intensive,” said Sgt. Jake Noltze, SCPD K-9 training coordinator.
An officer and his K-9 are together 24-7. On the job and at home.
“We know each other inside and out, and we know what to expect from each other,” said Officer Mike Sitzman, Zeus’s K-9 handler.
However, there comes a day that these four-legged officers have to hang up their leash and vest.
“The dogs take a beating both at training and on the street getting in and out of the car, fighting with suspects,” said Sitzman
Due to medical reasons and age, K-9 officers Zeus and Cash are headed into retirement.
“He’s going to live the good life and probably annoy my wife and kids when they’re at home and I’m at work,” said Officer Paul Yaneff, Cash’s K-9 handler.
“He’s going to be a house dog. I think he’s mentally ready. He wants to stay at home and hang out with the wife and kids,” said Sitzman.
In their place, the department is welcoming two new recruits.
“As a training coordinator, I have to learn what the dog is good at and put that aside and only do that a little bit. Because the dog is good, we have to learn where they are weak and learn how to bring them up,” said Noltze.
Noltze is zeroing in on K-9 officers Rigs and Red as well as their new handlers Jenny Probasco and Luke Petersen. The new team members are back in Sioux City after spending five weeks in Sheridan, Iowa.
“We had 290 hours of training. It was every day training. It was building searches, obedience, tracking, detection on vehicles, and buildings,” said Probasco, Rigs’ handler.
“We basically hit all the basics and now just working from there just getting the dogs prepared for the streets,” said Petersen, Red’s handler.
A total of four dogs make up the Sioux City Police Department’s K-9 Unit. Every Monday night, for four hours, the team comes together to work on skills.
“We’ll take everyday items like keys, pieces of leather – we will throw them out in the grass. The dogs will go out and find those items as evidence. We’ll grab a car, put hides on the car. The handler may know they are there and the handler may not know. He has to say if the dog yes – the dog indicated or no – the dog has not, then move on to the next vehicle,” said Noltze.
If a dog is struggling with obedience, tracking, detection, bite work, or evidence recovery, the handlers step in to provide extra training.
“So, every day I’m going to be doing training with him whether it’s obedience here or there, but I’m always going to train with him,” said Probasco.
“Even just integrating into the home life with family and other dogs, I have just integrating with them is a 24-hour thing as well as carrying that training little by little,” said Petersen.
The K-9’s are a tool for the officers. Knowing when and how to use them is key to unlocking success.
“Obviously their tracking ability we can’t do. Obviously their detection we can’t do, their indication on building searches. They are just safer to have on a building search than just having people go in. So, they are a very important tool and the more we can get the better,” said Petersen.
As Rigs, Red and their handlers grow, so will their ability to keep Sioux City streets safe.
“To get as many narcotics off the streets as possible and to make sure that everyone goes home safe, that is our ultimate goal,” said Probasco.