The Sterling Heights Police Department recently accepted K-9 Rich as its fourth police dog on the force.

The Sterling Heights Police Department recently accepted K-9 Rich as its fourth police dog on the force.

Photo provided by the city of Sterling Heights


Fourth K-9 hired in officer’s memory in Sterling Heights

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 18, 2019

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STERLING HEIGHTS — The Sterling Heights Police Department’s K-9 unit is now a force of four.

During an Oct. 1 meeting, the Sterling Heights City Council approved and welcomed the hiring of Rich, a fourth K-9 police dog, to the city’s Police Department.

According to city officials, the hire was made possible through Prevention Concepts and Solutions Inc., a nonprofit that uses dog therapy to serve first responders and veterans.

Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski said a Sterling Heights resident donated Rich, a male Dutch shepherd, to Prevention Concepts and Solutions, which in turn donated him to the Police Department.

“K-9 Rich is currently 11 months old. He has a social demeanor, listens well and learns quickly,” Dwojakowski said.

Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights donated $1,000 toward K-9 supplies and ge ar.

The Police Department’s K-9 program has seen turnover in the past few years as dogs retired. But new dogs — Ivy, Ernie and Groot — have been appointed, and the program returned to having three dogs last December, the chief said.

Over a 10-month span, the department has deployed the dogs 238 times, and in the process, they helped with 77 arrests, Dwojakowski said.

“This is the first time since 1978 that the Police Department will have four K-9s, which will ensure coverage on the road in order to keep all of our residents safe,” the chief said.

Dwojakowski said the department has picked Officer Brian Krueger to be Rich’s handler. Rich and Krueger, after completing a police academy training program, should start doing police work together by the end of November.

“We have a very intensive process to pick our K-9 handlers,” Dwojakowksi said. “Our K-9 selection process involves a rigorous physical test, extensive interviews, (an) in-home visit for suitability. We’ve had outstanding candidates apply for this coveted position.”

Rich’s name comes from a former K-9 handler for the department, Officer Rich Heins. Heins died from health issues last year, just months after he retired. The city named Heins Field, a K-9 training field at Baumgartner Park, after him following his retirement.

Councilwoman Deanna Koski was excited about the new K-9.

“That was something that Officer Heins wanted, was four,” Koski said. “So (he) got his wish.”

Mayor Michael Taylor praised Heins as someone passionate about dogs who built the local K-9 unit.

“This is a great way of honoring Rich’s memory and keeping him alive here in the city of Sterling Heights,” Taylor said.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling the Police Department at (586) 446-2800. Find our more about Prevention Concepts and Solutions by visiting preventionconceptsinc.org. For Suburban Ford of Sterling Heights, visit www.suburbanfordofsterlingheights.com.

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