Blaine Police Department is getting another K-9

The Blaine Police Department’s second K-9 has arrived, and he’s spending a week getting acquainted with Officer Reginald Larson before training starts.Larson and Rex, a Belgian Malinois, will train at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport as part of a three-month program prior to joining the Blaine force.

Earlier this month, Blaine City Council members accepted a $6,850 check from the Blaine Public Safety Association (BPSA) that will cover the new K-9’s cost.

The BPSA offers monetary and other support to Blaine’s fire, police and safety services. The organization funds safety programs and equipment purchases.

Police Chief Chris Olson said the city was able to save about $2,000 by purchasing used but quality K-9 squad car equipment being sold by the city of Fridley.

“Our new dog is about 14 months old,” Olson said. “This type of dog is a little bit smaller than a German Shepherd, but is faster when it comes to field work.”

Those attending the council’s March 1 meeting applauded after BPSA Treasurer Jane Daniels described the donation and presented a king-size check.

Larson said he’s planning to bring K-9 Rex to BPSA’s second annual pet walk, which is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, April 28 at Lakeside Commons Park.

“He’s going to spend the next week just having buddy time [with me.],” Larson said. “My father was a dog handler and I’ve been working with them since I was in third grade.”

Larson has also been working with Coon Rapids Police Officer Mark McDonough the past four years as a K-9 training and classroom assistant.

Officer Greg Rowe and German Shepherd Gunner currently form Blaine’s Police K-9 unit, the city’s first since the 1970s.

Gunner joined the force in July 2008 after an intensive 12-week training course with Rowe in St. Paul.

Last summer, Olson pitched a plan to city leaders to add a second K-9 to the police department. Having a single unit creates coverage limitations, he said.

Service-life expectancy varies from dog to dog, but six to seven years is average.

Adding a second K-9 will ensure the continuity of the program with no significant lack of coverage during training and indoctrination periods of new canines.

Prior to 2008, Olson said the city of Blaine relied on other Anoka County jurisdictions for K-9 service.

The addition of Rowe and Gunner has proven to be “very beneficial” in terms of suspects apprehended, evidence recovered, weapons found and successful drug searches, Olson said.

The program has also enhanced officer safety, not only for the handler but for officers during building and area searches.

Olson suggested a two-canine replacement cycle, since Gunner is expected to retire from active duty service in 2015 or 2016.

Tim Hennagir is at [email protected]