Middletown police celebrated its 50th anniversary of its canine unit with a public demonstration Saturday at Middletown High School.
About 100 people showed up in 94-degree heat to watch Middletown’s police dogs and Monroe’s police dog perform various tasks such as running through, over and around obstacles; sniffing out suspects in large containers, missing property and drugs and taking down “suspects” in various simulations.
The event started with a procession of vehicles from the nearby Miami University Middletown to the MHS track and entered the field to the theme music of the television show “COPS” before the handlers put their canine partners through their paces.
Participating in the demonstrations were the current team of Middletown police handlers and dogs: Officer Ryan Morgan and Chase, Officer Marco Caito and Aki, Officer Tony Gibson and Bear (who is still in training) and Sgt. Andy Warrick and Odin. Also participating was Monroe police Officer Mike Doughman and Helix. Officer Dennis Jordan, a former dog handler, is in charge of training of the Middletown canines.
“Fifty years. It’s hard to believe,” said Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw. “It was great seeing the old K9 guys.”
One of those was Bill Hollister, the police division’s third dog handler. Although he retired after 33 years as an officer, Hollister is still a police reservist and helped to train the police dogs for the past 14 years.
“Three more years and will have been here a half-century,” he said.
Jordan said the canines go through 500 hours of training, roughly three months, before they can be certified by the state of Ohio to work on the streets. He said Middletown’s canines are also certified by the U.S. Police Canine Association. In addition, Jordan said the dogs have to go through a minimum of 16 hours of additional training to retain their state and national certifications. However, he said most of Middletown’s handlers do 25 to 30 hours of training every week to two weeks.
“It’s a commitment for the officer and their family,” Jordan said.
Muterspaw said all of the police dogs are 3 years old or younger and said their service was “immeasurable.”
“They’re very valuable,” Muterspaw said. “We’re doing a lot of drug interdiction with our partnership with the Ohio Highway Patrol and for what we’re trying to do with heroin crisis, we’re using them more than ever before.”
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