For the first time in 13 years, the village of Shorewood welcomed a four-legged officer onto its force. Rookie has been part of the Shorewood Police Department for a couple of weeks, and his handler is officer John Coldwater.
The 15-month-old German shorthair pointer was born in Slovakia and traveled to Holland, where the Shallow Creek Kennels Inc. of Pennsylvania owner travels to buy his dogs. After veterinary checks, Rookie arrived in the U.S. on Aug. 20.
Rookie was made a part of the force in conjunction with a push by Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow to equip Will County police departments with drug dogs, especially in the southern end, where the dogs are less prevalent, in order to create an effective system to crack down on drugs on the roadways and in schools.
Glasgow has funded drug dogs in Channahon, Shorewood, Wilmington, Rockdale and Elwood, which adds to the 50 police dogs in Will County. Glasgow said that he hopes “the handlers get to know one another and create a camaraderie, which makes the officers even more ambitious and effective – maybe like a league of extraordinary K-9s.”
Glasgow said that after a traffic stop, an officer has a short amount of time to bring in a dog to check a vehicle if there is suspicion. He said the average stop should be about 20 minutes.
So if an officer pulls over someone and suspects drugs, but a dog is not in close proximity, it might mean letting go of someone who potentially could have narcotics. With this network of dogs near one another, the officers can know which dog is where and have one available in time for a search.
Shorewood Police Chief Aaron Klima said he has wanted to include a drug dog to the force for some time, but it would have been next summer before he would have been able to get it on the village budget.
Glasgow took care of paying for the dog. He said the funds for drug dogs comes straight from money seized from drug dealers.
“It’s important to apply that money in the community for public service, especially when the heroin epidemic is at its height,” he said.
“It’s no secret that we all have narcotics issues, and the dog will help our guys find contraband,” Klima said. “I hope we can detect and apprehend people who violate our narcotic laws.”
Glasgow said he does not have the goal only to make arrests, but “young people doing heroin who are addicted are not themselves, do not have a normal thought process and don’t care if they die.
“I don’t want to just arrest someone; I want them to get into treatment. I had an addict tell me once that it took two to three months in jail before the drug fog lifted and he began to care about himself. Sometimes the dry out in jail is the ace in the hole for us.”
Glasgow also created drug court in Will County, and he has witnessed firsthand the positive effects it has had on those who have gone through and become integral members of society.
Rookie and other dogs also will be available to go into schools to find drugs, get them out of the hands of the children, get parents involved and get children in treatment.
Coldwater has been on the traffic unit in Shorewood for seven years, and he always has wanted to be a K-9 handler.
He will attend 16 hours of training with Rookie each month in order for him to be able to do article searches and narcotics training for cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Klima said that when he learned about the possibility of a dog, he held a meeting with all interested officers to go over expectations. He then took applications and performed interviews.
He said he chose Coldwater because “his work speaks for itself. He is always outstanding, self-initiated and offers quality and quantity at work.”