CORALVILLE — Looking to the future — specifically, the opening of the Xtream Arena and the 2020 caucuses — Coralville is beefing up its K-9 ranks.
“We’ve got the arena and we’ve got 2020,” said Coralville Police Chief Shane Kron. “I expect this dog to be busy right out of the chute.”
Just this week, Coralville police officer Chad Bender met his new partner, Roxi, a two-year-old black Labrador. The two will spend the next month training together at Northern Michigan K-9 in Harrison, Mich.
“Chad is only a couple of days into training, but he said, ‘You’re really going to like this dog,’” Kron said.
Bender and Roxi join the team of Coralville officer Brad Clark and his German Shepherd, Matz, who have been patrolling together since October 2017. While Matz is trained in narcotics detection, tracking and apprehension, the department went in a different direction with Roxi. Kron said Roxi is not a handler defense dog like Matz and is not trained to bite and hold. Rather, Roxi is trained in explosives detection and will be also be deployed for searches and recovering lost items or evidence.
With the anticipated opening of the Xtream Arena next year and political candidates heading to the area during the build up to the 2020 Iowa caucuses, as well as the large events and festivals hosted in Coralville on an annual basis, it made sense to get an explosives dog, Kron said.
“We were really looking forward to the arena opening, the political season,” he said. “We host a lot of political gatherings out here and they often want explosives detection. The University of Iowa has always been supportive and always sent us their dog when needed. We’re just anticipating a lot more need and we don’t want to over use (them).”
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Bender and Roxi will also take some of the pressure off Clark and Matz on the public relations side of things.
“The public loves dogs and they love police dogs even more,” Kron said. “We end up using Matz all the time at events.”
Bender and Roxi will meet with the public and at events, Kron said. He added that Bender is working with an animal control worker to develop a more structured demonstration that will involve teaching children how to approach and pet dogs.
In Bender, Coralville gets a second K-9 officer with ample experience. Bender was the department’s first K-9 officer and was teamed for 10 years with Ivan. Ivan was put to rest in May 2017 after a battle with cancer.
Kron admits that he was a little surprised Bender applied to become a handler again, given the extra work that goes into it and the emotional pain of losing a dog. But, Kron said he trusts that Bender is ready to be a handler again.
“I think he sees the opportunity to build a relationship with a new dog,” he said. “He’s got experience. He was a good handler. It really wasn’t that tough of a decision.”
Kron said Roxi and her training cost $14,000, all of which will be coming out of forfeitures. He expects the pair to start working together sometime in November.
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