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Decorah’s K-9 Unit Sniffing Out Crime
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Decorah’s K-9 Unit Sniffing Out Crime

Deputy Sheriff Steve Nesvik of Calmar and his partner Ricky, who happens to be a four-legged member of the Winneshiek County K-9 Unit, work together sniffing out crime.

Ricky is a Belgian Malinios, looking similar to a small version of a German Shepherd, born in September of 2006 in Czechoslovakia. Deputy Paul Samuelson sent for the dog that April and trained him for police work in Fort Dodge for six months, and then I went to Fort Dodge for two weeks of intense training with Ricky,” informed Nesvik. Nesvik had to learn Czech commands and praise to work with his new partner.

Ricky’s cost was about $9,500 and was paid for by seized drug money forfeited back to the Sheriff’s office and Drug Task Force. Modifications to the squad car include a dog kennel in the back seat with a heat alarm and door popper,” explains Nesvik.

Teamwork is the key, and that means lots of continuing training for both officers. “In addition to performing drug searches, Ricky also can provide backup to deputies, locate suspects and victims, and find evidence at or near crime scenes. The dog and handler first worked together through basic obedience (including hand signals) and agility training. The dog is taught to locate and track human scent, search areas and buildings for suspects, evidence, and suspect apprehension, along with how to protect his handler. The handler learns to read and interpret the dog's body language and the noises the dog makes when it has located something and is on a track. Narcotics police dog handlers and their partners attend a training course where the dog is trained to recognize and alert the handler to the presence of narcotics. Ricky is trained as a passive alert dog where he will sit and stare. Aggressive dogs bite and scratch at drug odor,” says Nesvik.

“Humans have five million receptor cells for sense of smell compared to a dog that has 220 million receptor cells for smell. That is about 44 times greater and it is why dogs are a big help sniffing out crime. Ricky is trained to the following narcotic odors: marijuana, hashish, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, methamphetamine ICE,” explains Nesvik.

Ricky and I train about four hours a week continually. I go to the Waterloo Police Department and train about twice a month currently. He is trained for muzzle fighting, civil agitation, gunfire apprehensions, man-aggression exercises besides narcotics and other general training.” explains Nesvik. You won’t find Ricky sitting in the office when Nesvik has paper work to do because all the special attention at work may deter Ricky’s focus. You’ll find Ricky in the squad car ready to roll when they get a call.

At home, Ricky is affectionate with a wagging tail and a inquisitive nose, just like any other pet dog. When it’s time to go on duty, this four-legged member of the Winneshiek County K-9 Unit transforms into a working officer. Officer Ricky stays alert in the climate controlled car, ready for Nesvik to pop open the door with his remote and go into action. Hats off to the canine duo who also works with DARE programs and is available for other programs as well.



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