IFPD expands K-9 unit, prepares for retirement of 2 K-9s

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – The Idaho Falls Police Department has announced the expansion of the IFPD Police K-9 Unit with the addition of several new police dogs to the department.

For the past several years, the IFPD has had two to three canine (K-9) handlers and a dog — two trained in narcotics detection and one trained in explosives detection.

Today, the IFPD has six police K-9s in various stages of active duty and training, with two expected to retire by the end of this year.

The expansion of the IFPD K-9 Unit was made possible with the help of several grants and donations with the support of Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and the Idaho Falls City Council. The cost of purchasing a police K-9 and the necessary training and certification process is typically upwards of $15,000 per K-9. Thanks to donations, grants, skills and in-house training expertise, costs to Idaho Falls taxpayers have been dramatically reduced. At the same time, the practice of K-9s as a police resource has expanded.

Ardis is a two-year-old male English Lab working with the Idaho Falls Police Department since May 2022. Electronic Storage K-9 detection Ardis is partnered with Detective Jared Mendenhall of the Bureau of Investigations and Special Operations. Detective Mendenhall is part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force through the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.

The specialty of Ardis is quite rare in the country. In fact, Ardis and her handler are only the second certified ESD K-9 team in the state of Idaho. Detective Mendenhall and K-9 Ardis have already been used statewide as part of the ICAC Task Force in addition to their work in Idaho Falls. Ardis was acquired through a grant from Operation Underground Railroad.

Argo is a three-year-old male German Shepherd who has been with the Idaho Falls Police Department since August 2020. Argo is partnered with Officer Mitch Bierma in the Patrol Bureau and they are certified in narcotics detection, article search, tracking. and fear. Argo was acquired for the department at a bargain price after a retired IFPD officer referred Argo to IFPD. Argo was previously deployed to health security in another state. After recognizing that Argo was better suited for police work and that the department needed a new police K-9, IFPD was able to purchase Argo for a fraction of the normal cost. Skadi is a one-year-old Belgian Malinois mix that joined the IFPD in May 2022.

Skadi trains to become an explosive detection and tracking K-9 with Detective David Shanor. Detective Senor is part of the Bureau of Investigations and Special Operations. When certified, he and Skadi will serve as part of the Idaho Falls Regional Bomb Squad serving the greater Eastern Idaho area. Skadi was adopted by the IFPD from the Blackfoot Animal Shelter after being transferred from a shelter in California. The Skadi’s previous owners surrendered it after realizing that while its high-riding performance was ideal for police work, it didn’t suit their lifestyle.

Ghost, Rip and Kahn all joined the IFPD last month after being taken from a police dog training facility in Alabama. All three are training for certification with the Patrol Bureau’s Narcotics Detection and Containment officers. Ghost, a two-year-old male German shepherd, is paired with Officer Jose Abreo. Rip, a one-year-old German shepherd, is paired with Officer Braden Bestor. Kahn, a one-year-old German Shepherd, is paired with Sergeant Gabe Klepich.

The purchase of these police dogs was made possible by grants from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory and the Cross Foundation in partnership with the Greater Idaho Falls Police Foundation.

A 21-year veteran of the department, Sergeant Klepich is nationally certified in the instruction and training of law enforcement K-9s. Sgt. Klepich oversees the training of Skadi, Ghost, Rip, Kahn and their fellow police officers, saving the department thousands of dollars in outside training costs. These four dogs and their handlers will have to go through the Idaho POST certification process to begin working in the field. So far everyone is doing well in practice. Community members can follow K-9 Units training on the Idaho Falls Police Department’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Two police dogs who have served the Idaho Falls Police Department for the past few years are set to retire. K-9 Rocky, an eight-year-old Belgian Malinois, has served the department since 2015. He and his partner, Sergeant Klepic, are certified in Narcotics Detection and Apprehension. Together, they have successfully located and removed numerous illegal drugs from the streets of Idaho Falls over the past eight years. Rocky will continue to live with Sergeant Klepich when he retires.

K-9 Harry, a nine-year-old Belgian Malinois, has been with the department since 2016. K-9 Harry is partnered with Explosive Decision and Crash K-9 officer Braden Bestor. K-9 Harry has spent the past seven years with the IFPD Patrol Bureau and the Idaho Falls Regional Bomb Squad. Upon retirement, Harry will continue to live with Officer Bestor.

K-9 Harry and K-9 Rocky will continue to work for the Idaho Falls Police Department until the new police dogs and handlers are certified to ensure a seamless transition of detection capabilities within the department and the Idaho Falls community. The Idaho Falls Police Department anticipates community retirement for these K-9s in the coming months.

In preparation for these upcoming scholarships, the Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police is establishing a retirement fund to support the costs associated with the continued care of retired Idaho Falls Police K-9s. As is standard in law enforcement agencies across the country, handlers typically keep retired police dogs and are personally responsible for them, including the financial costs of food, medical care and other necessities.

The Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police, a nonprofit organization of police spouses and family members, is doing a fundraiser selling miniature plush police stuffed animal replicas to benefit the retired K-9 fund. Each of the eight stuffed animals is modeled after a current IFPD police K-9, including a special Idaho Falls Police K-9 Office badge for the dog tag. Anyone interested in purchasing a replica K-9 can visit the Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary Facebook page or email the Auxiliary at IFPDaux06@gmail.com. Direct donations to the retired police K-9 fund can also be made by contacting the Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police.

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