Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

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July 17, 2014

Drug-busting duo

NEWTON — After two years of prepwork, training and team-building exercises, a new member of the Newton Police Department has been making himself more and more visible throughout Jasper County.

His name is Dano, a German shepherd from Slovakia. Working with Cpl. Doug Bierman, the K-9 is part of the department’s new approach to dealing with drug issues in the county.

Bierman originally had the idea to bring a police dog to the department back in 2012, seeing it as an opportunity to deal with the higher volume of methamphetamine law enforcement officers were dealing with at the time.

“I enjoy working drug cases,” he said. “That’s kind of my passion. This was just something I wanted to try. I approached Chief (Mike) Swick about getting a dog and told him I would do the legwork for it.”

That legwork lasted one year and involved raising more than $20,000 from community donations followed by six weeks of training in Evansville.

Aside from teaching Dano to search for narcotics and track, training also allowed the two to create a bond.

“You take baby steps and work your way up,” he said. “You spend every day with them for six weeks, and they even sleep in the hotel with you. It’s just like any pet. You’re with it and you start to create that bond, and that’s what it takes to work together. It all comes down to that bond.”

That bond has led to success in the field. Dano has assisted in several arrests and has used his training to track a fleeing suspect.

Training isn’t over, though. Bierman said the pair still work in their downtime on obedience drills and other exercises. That work may be able to prepare Dano for searching vehicles that may includelarge-scale drug transportion. Bierman said that training and work could send a message throughout the community.

“I think it’s a crime deterrent,” he said. “Just the fact that it’s here, and people know it’s here is one of the big things.”

Bierman also has been taking the dog around the Jasper County area for demonstrations, including a stop at the Strawberry Festival in May and a planned demonstration at the Fall Festival. He said it’s important to show the community what Dano’s capabilities.

“I try to get the word out there,” he said. “The public’s the people that paid for this ultimately. The public was very beneficial in making this happen. I like to bring him out and show what he’s made of.”

Dano recently got a test of nature against other police dogs at the end of June when he was entered in the United States Police Canine Association Trials, where he and Bierman competed against 31 police dogs from Illinois and Missouri. Dano placed first in obedience.

Despite the accolades, Bierman said the priority is still in working with other area agencies, including the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department. For now, the pair is still working together on how to best protect the community.

“I’m still learning just like he is,” Bierman said. “We’re learning together.”

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