As the police car accelerated and the siren was switched on, Adele played in the background and the police dog, Ike, paced in the backseat. Ike was excited once he heard the sirens switch on.
Bloomington Police officer Will Keaton is the police officer in charge of Ike, BPD’s sole police dog. Keaton said while he and Ike are the only current members, a department the size of BPD could have as many as four police dogs.
“Ultimately there should be one on duty at all times,” Keaton said.
The issue with that is the cost, Keaton said.
Ike, a German Shepard from the Czech Republic, and his training have a price tag of $13,000. They also require special police cars with a cage in the back. Keaton’s car is also equipped with a remote door opener so he can let Ike out at a moment’s notice.
The approximate expense of getting another three dogs would total $39,000, which does not include training for officers or the special police cars that are required for the dogs.
BPD Sgt. Lucas Tate, the supervisor for the K-9 unit, said while the K-9 units are expensive, they help officers in many situations.
“It gives them something extra to use,” Tate said. “It’s a very useful tool.”
Keaton said he remembered when Ike gained his trust for the first time. Keaton was helping another officer with a traffic stop and BPD had only recently gotten Ike.
As officers searched the vehicle they were not finding anything, and Keaton said he started to get nervous. He wanted to prove Ike was an asset, and, as he sent Ike around the car for another pass, Ike smelled one of the drugs he was trained to find.
Ike found a small foil packet, similar to ones used to wrap chewing gum, and in it he found methamphetamine. Much of it had already been used, but Keaton said this was great proof of just how sensitive and effective Ike could be on the police force.
Ike is trained using pure drug samples that are obtained from the federal government and are strictly monitored by Tate, Keaton’s supervisor.
Keaton said if a case he and Ike are involved in goes to trial, the first thing a lawyer does is try to discredit the dog.
“He will be the first thing the defense attorney attacks in trial.” Keaton said.
Police dogs, if proven reliable, can help prove probable cause in a trial, Keaton said. Ike has a record of 96.55-percent reliability, far above the national average set by the U.S. Supreme Court at 50 percent.
Keaton and Ike spend the majority of their training hours on obedience training. Keaton said it was the foundation of everything he does.
Over the course of more than two years of service, Ike has caught more than 36 people, and, of those people, only six were even bitten by Ike, Keaton said.
“The goal is not to hurt. It’s to apprehend,” Keaton said.
As part of a training exercise early Saturday, BPD officer Daniel Coons put on what is referred to as a bite suit.
The bite suit is made of heavy materials designed to protect the officer inside from feeling the full brunt of a police dog in training.
Keaton had Coons begin to run away from him and he pretended to pursue him, and that is when Keaton released the automated door and Ike was deployed.
Ike’s top speed is more than 30 miles an hour, and he quickly caught Coons. Ike leapt onto Coons’s back and bore him down to the ground in a single motion. Keaton said the police dogs are sometimes referred to as fur missiles.
“You can hear him coming fast,” Coons said. “You can hear him panting.”
At approximately 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Coons and Keaton also demonstrated that Ike could jump six-foot-tall fences in a single leap at Bloomington High School North.
Keaton and Ike both approached the fence at a jog and as they leaped, Ike’s front paws grasped the top of the fence, and he hurtled over the fence and landed on the other side.
Coons, after he managed to get out of the heavy bite suit, said Ike did his best in training but after training Ike did not have any aggression toward him.
“I love getting to work with Ike,” Coons said. “He knows we’re buddies.”
Keaton said police dogs like Ike help open doors and help make BPD a more effective agency. Ike not only leaps fences, chases suspects and finds drugs, though. Ike also finds people.
Keaton said he remembered one case in particular when he and Ike were assigned to find a young boy who had gone missing after he had gone chasing his own dog into the woods.
The dog returned home, but the boy did not.
Keaton and Ike were sent out and located the boy. They found him within 48 hours; however, the boy had drowned in a pond while he was in the woods.
Keaton said though the result was sad, he found that work some of the most important he and Ike have done as a team because they helped provide closure to a family.
“That one was the most important,” Keaton said. “It didn’t leave the parents waiting.”
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