Retiring K-9 gets salute for his service

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published November 23, 2018

  Sterling Heights K-9 Chase celebrates his retirement Nov. 16.

Sterling Heights K-9 Chase celebrates his retirement Nov. 16.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Chase receives a special cake for the dogs in attendance.

Chase receives a special cake for the dogs in attendance.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Sterling Heights police Officer Richard Heins receives Chase’s retirement badge from police Capt. Colleen Hopper at Chase’s retirement.

Sterling Heights police Officer Richard Heins receives Chase’s retirement badge from police Capt. Colleen Hopper at Chase’s retirement.

Photo by Deb Jacques

STERLING HEIGHTS — Over the whimpers, yelps and occasional barks of police dogs in attendance, Sterling Heights K-9 dog Chase received a fond farewell from his coworkers at the Sterling Heights Police Department Nov. 16.

Sterling Heights police Chief Dale Dwojakowski remarked on the retirement, recalling that he was on calls with Chase back in the day. Under the watch of K-9 handler Officer Rich Heins, Chase served with the Police Department for 10 years, performing K-9 activities like drug detection, tracking suspects and missing people, and more.

“Everyone loves a dog story, and everyone loves these K-9s,” the chief said. “They are the human extension of their handlers. … These dogs still are irreplaceable. There is no machine that can do what a dog can do.”

Sterling Heights police Capt. Colleen Hopper said she remembers that the first time she met Chase, he was “scattering across the floor as fast as you could in my direction.”

“I was a little afraid, but after we played for, let’s say, a while, I went to sit down on Officer Heins’ couch, and Chase followed,” she said. “Chase worked his way slowly into my lap and began nudging my hand and then placed my thumb in his mouth and starting licking it.

“I was a little confused, to say the least, because I wasn’t sure this was an actual police dog, but Officer Heins assured me that this is how (Chase) likes to go to sleep.”

She then went on to list some success stories form Chase’s career: chasing and knocking down a fleeing suspect, then barking, holding and heeling without making a bite. She said it exemplifies the “intense training our K-9s go through.”

Chase and Heins received several gifts and awards, including artwork of the dog. Chase got a retirement badge for his collar, a special bone-shaped cake made for dogs, and his own fire hydrant from the Fire Department and the Department of Public Works.

Police officials announced that the K-9 training field at Baumgartner Park will be renamed Heins Field. Heins spoke about what Chase’s retirement means to him, and he called the renaming of the training field an “awesome thing.”

“This is overwhelming,” he said. “Seeing these dogs, you just can’t see police dogs sitting around in a room like this, being, for the most part, just chilling. It shows the dedication the dog handlers have with their dogs.”

Heins also thanked City Councilwoman Deanna Koski for helping make the Police Department’s K-9 program possible around 25 years ago.

“I believe my career went the way it went because of Councilwoman Koski and being able to establish this K-9 unit,” he said.

After the event, Koski wished Chase well in his post-career life.

“He has served the city of Sterling Heights extremely well,” Koski said. “We are very, very proud of him — all the awards that he has received, all the certifications and all the bad guys that he’s caught. So I wish him a great and joyful retirement.”

With Chase’s retirement, the Police Department still has three dogs in the force: Ivy, Ernie and Groot. The last two were introduced to the public earlier in the fall.

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Police Department by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2800.