Nero is on the Beat with LPD

Nero, the latest K9 to join the Lamar Police Department, was added to the roster as he began his duties with Officer C.J.  Filbeck today, September 27.  Nero is replacing Filbeck’s former canine colleague, Joey, who has been retired from active duty after five years because of age and some medical problems.  Joey will live out her days at Filbeck’s home with Nero who is 14 months old.

Lamar Police Chief Gary McCrea said Nero has been in training at Iron Heart Training Center in Shawnee, KS, along with Officer Filbeck for the past two weeks.  Nero will be a bargain.  According to Chief McCrea, most K9s average around $12,500 for purchase and training, but because the city has been using the same provider company, the cost was reduced almost 25%.  “We had a drug bust payout from the state on seizure money which covered most of the cost, plus some generous local donations, so we’re coming out ahead,” said Chief McCrea.

Nero has been trained to be a dual purpose K9, for tracking and to sniff out drugs. The year he spent in Poland was for general command programs, not specifically for drug interdiction.  He and Filbeck will take a recertification course every year and like Officer Filbeck, he’ll work a 40 hour week, plus on call situations, and should provide about six years of service to the community.  Filbeck said that because of hip dysplasia, some large working dogs aren’t able to maintain their level of performance like a house pet.  Nero will ride in a K9 equipped car that was modified when the department brought in canine service several years ago.  Officer Filbeck can open Nero’s rear car door with the touch of a button on his utility belt.  “He’ll stay right inside when the door is opened, and wait for a command from me,” Filbeck explained, “but if I should get into a confrontation or physical situation with a suspect and the door is opened, he’s out that door like a shot.”

Nero and Officer C.J.  Filbeck

Filbeck said since the LPD started conducting random drug sniffing searches, the number of people transporting drugs on commercial buses has dropped off.  “The bus companies appreciate our efforts,” he said.  When asked if a rider knows the jig is up when a dog arrives on the scene, Filbeck said sometimes he can spot someone by their actions.  “We had one situation where the bus left and a rider stayed behind, hiding in some bushes until we spotted him and just gave it up at that point,” he said.

Like other K9s, Nero will also conduct random drug sweeps about once a month at the local high and middle schools.  “Usually we concentrate on lockers inside the school and not so much on cars in the parking lot.  It takes a lot out of the dog when we do that,” Filbeck said.  Chief McCrea explained, “We can only work Nero or Wiley or any other dog for about 15 minutes at a stretch, then they need to break off for a while.  It just wears them out, plus when they search, they’re sniffing about 180 times in a minute to detect an odor.”  McCrea said when Nero gets a hit, he just sits down.  “Early on in the K9 patrols, we used to have the dogs trained to scratch on the suspected item, but that became expensive when it marred a car’s finish,” he said.

By Russ Baldwin


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