The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department recently welcomed the first of two new K-9 units to its force, and the team has already hit the ground running.
Deputy Justin Mendenhall and his police dog, Reggie, a 2-year-old German shepherd, were called to assist Waterloo police on two traffic stops in the unit’s first week on the job. In one of the incidents, drugs were detected on the suspect and a felony charge was filed.
Mendenhall, 35, grew up in Neoga but has resided in the Red Bud area for the past several years. Prior to working for the MCSD, he served with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
Mendenhall and Reggie trained under Brian Gagye at Special Ops K-9 Academy in North Webster, Ind. Gagye trained MCSD Sgt. Jim Lansing and police dog Sari, who is retiring.
Reggie was previously owned by a doctor who had purchased him for personal protection but later decided against it, donating the dog and training to the MCSD instead.
“He’s pretty hyper, but he’s just a puppy,” Mendenhall said of his partner.
This is Mendenhall’s first stint as a K-9 officer.
“I like it,” he said. “It’s a very big commitment.”
Reggie is trained to detect six different drugs: heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, ecstasy and marijuana. He is also certified in tracking both suspects and missing persons as well as providing protection.
“It’s his natural instinct. He’s going to protect,” Mendenhall said.
Another police dog is coming to the department courtesy of a $72,000 grant from the Howard Buffett Foundation, which will cover the price of the dog, training and a 2015 fully-loaded Chevrolet Tahoe equipped for K-9 operations.
MCSD Deputy Ed Ahne is currently training with the other police dog, Condor, at Vohne Liche Kennels in Indiana. Ahne and Condor, who is a cross between a malinois and German shepherd, should be ready for service in about a month.
“And the best part is, both are free,” Monroe County Sheriff Neal Rohlfing said of his department’s two new police dogs. “This is a great opportunity for our department and both of them.”
Lansing, who will soon serve as lieutenant and chief deputy, said Sari is winding down her career and will still be used for school presentations and other community events before she officially retires at the end of the year.
Once both new police dogs begin service, the MCSD will place them on different shifts to enhance K-9 availability throughout the county.