When Polk County Sheriff Jim Tadman ran for office last, one thing he continually said he wanted to do was restart the K9 program in Polk County.  Tadman was the first Polk County Deputy partnered with a K9 back when the program first started in 1996 when Nieko joined the force.  After Nieko retired, Thunder and Bosco both joined force in 2003 with Bosco retiring as the last K9 to date along with his handler Deputy Dave Emanuel in 2009. 

Tadman said he’s excited to give the K9 program a shot and find out how much support it will have in the community.  “I’m going to give it a shot,” said Tadman.  “I had reached out to the commissioners about receiving some possible funding for a K9 program and asked if they’d be against me trying to raise money to start a K9 program back up in the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.  The last K9 retired back in 2009 with Deputy Dave Emanuel.  We had received two dogs in 2003 with Deputy Emanuel and Deputy Trent Stahlecker having K9s.  I’m very excited about this and going to try to see what kind of federal or state grants are out there.  And look at any private foundations willing to assist.  My big thing is to find out how much community support we have for one.”

Tadman believes K9s are invaluable to the departments they work for as they provide for officer safety and are a deterrent for offenders.  “I think they are an invaluable asset to our office,” said Tadman.  “It improves officer safety.  They are able to locate and find hidden, dangerous suspects in situations and areas where officers entering would place their lives in danger.  They are an extremely useful psychological deterrent.  Often the sight and sound of a K9 showing up on scene is enough to prevent defenders from resisting arrest or cause hidden suspects to surrender.  If we can work it out that way where we don’t have to use force or have officers hurt I think it would be a great asset.”

Currently, Polk County only puts out a call for K9 assistance to a partner agency in times of extreme need such as for a missing person.  K9 units from Norman County, Red Lake County, Marshall County, and Thief River Falls have assisted Polk County in those cases.  East Grand Forks revived their K9 program in 2018 and since then LeRoy and his handler, East Grand Forks Police Officer Tyler Hajicek, have assisted the sheriff’s office with calls across the county.  Tadman said he’d like to start with one K9 but eventually have a K9 on each side of the county or with each team of deputies. “We’ve been very grateful to our neighbors,” said Tadman.  “Officer Hajicek and his partner LeRoy have assisted us on searches even out to Lengby.  We’re grateful that our partners in East Grand Forks allow him to come out to help with the search for suspects or narcotics.  My goal down the road since we have such a large county is to have one on each end that could be utilized or on each team. We’re going to start small, get back into it, and see where we go.”

Tadman said the county’s K9 program would center around dogs with dual-purpose training for detection and tracking among other skills. “We are looking at a dual purpose K9,” said Tadman.  “The primary duties of the K9 unit are narcotics detection, tracking criminal suspects, or lost persons along with evidence in building searches including criminal apprehension and officer protection.  That is what is considered dual-purpose.  Our K9 handler would certify to the United States Police K9 Association standards in general patrol dog use which includes tracking, protection and narcotics detection.  We have a long road ahead of us to raise the money and then we have to find the right handler for this.  As a past K9 handler for many years I’m glad I’ve been given the chance to see if we can start a K9 program.”

The K9 program would not be managed through the Sheriff’s Office Budget and would rely entirely upon grants and donations.  The first donation of $1,000 to the program was accepted by the Polk County Commissioners on Tuesday from Dick and Audrey Hebert.  The Polk County Sheriff’s Association has created a fund to help with the non-profit support of the K9 program which can be supported by mail sent to:

Polk County Sheriff’s Association
K9 Foundation
600 Bruce Street
Crookston, MN 56716