Shelby’s new K-9, Morpheus, gets his badge

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published December 8, 2015

 Morpheus sits in the lobby of the township municipal building during the Board of Trustees meeting Dec. 1. He graduated from training with his new handler, officer Joe Wojcik, Nov. 13 and hit the Shelby streets Nov. 16.

Morpheus sits in the lobby of the township municipal building during the Board of Trustees meeting Dec. 1. He graduated from training with his new handler, officer Joe Wojcik, Nov. 13 and hit the Shelby streets Nov. 16.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — At the Dec. 1 Shelby Township Board of Trustees meeting, Clerk Stan Grot swore in the township’s newest furry, four-legged police officer.

Morpheus, a 15-month-old black German shepherd from the Czech Republic, graduated from a training academy in Pennsylvania with his handler, Joseph Wojcik, a 15-year veteran of the Shelby Township Police Department, on Nov. 13.

Police Chief Robert Shelide said Wojcik and Morpheus, who will wear a special custom-made police badge with his name on it, hit the streets Nov. 16.

Wojcik said the duo trained for six weeks at Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, with K-9 teams from around the country. They trained to do article searches, building searches, narcotic work, tracking, apprehension and more for about 12 hours every day.

Morpheus takes his commands in Dutch, and Wojcik said he learned approximately 18-20 Dutch commands during training.

At the end of their shift, Morpheus goes home with Wojcik. The Wojcik family includes Wojcik’s wife, two children and two other dogs.

“He fits right in the family,” Wojcik said. “He is a puppy when he’s at home, but when I have him at work — we’ve done a couple cars already — he knows exactly what he needs to do. He’s locked in and focused.”

Wojcik said the partnership is going well, and it is his hope that the duo will have a great career together.

“Everyone (at the department) loves him and accepts him as an important part of the police family,” Shelide said. “I also know that the dog is a lethal weapon, No. 1, who will go and save children and sniff out narcotics.”

Shelide said a K-9 is an integral part of the police force because it can provide community relations and crime fighting on a level that its human counterparts cannot. Shelide said his vision is to split the dog’s duties 50-50 between crime fighting and community events.

In June, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the replacement of the Police Department’s K-9, as well as the cost of training and new equipment, for $13,750 in drug forfeiture money.

The Police Department’s former K-9, Henry, retired April 17 after almost 10 years on the job.

Editor’s note: Sarah Wojcik and Joseph Wojcik are not related.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 498-1029.

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