The Kalamazoo Public Safety K9 team handled over 600 service calls last year

KALAMAZOO, Michigan – The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety is celebrating a year of having a fully staffed K9 unit, after adding two K9 officers to their team last year.

“The reason it was so important to add two K9s to the Kalamazoo team is so we could have 24/7 coverage,” said Security Department K9 team sergeant public of Kalamazoo. Kelly Pittelkow.

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) now has a total of eight K9 officers with two K9 handler duos on each shift.

The department trained the two newest, Sledge and Groot, before last summer.

“Probably about four months after we picked them up and brought them here for training, they were all able to get their certification through our national organization,” Sgt. Pittelkow said.

Over the past year, the K9 unit handled a total of 638 service calls. Of those calls, they charged 194 suspects on 282 counts.

“K9s are used to assist officers in all types of investigations. We certify patrol work and narcotics detection annually. Patrol work includes building searches, tracking item searches, narcotics searches…exactly what it sounds like. They’re all trained in five different smells of illegal narcotics, and they’re involved in the investigations of that,” Pittelkow said.

For 2021, the K9 unit recovered $19,675 in property, confiscated $98,758 in drug money, and seized $34,130 in narcotics.

“Their noses are so much stronger than the human nose, so if someone is running away from us, they can help us find them. If there are illegal narcotics in a car, they can help us locate them. Without their help, a lot of infested investigations would have to be postponed or sold out altogether without that extra help,” Pittelkow said.

Although COVID-19 still had a big impact on community awareness, the team was still able to hold 25 demonstrations and complete 3,033 hours of training.

“Sometimes this part of the K9 team gets overlooked, but they’re a great tool for community engagement and awareness,” Pittelkow said.

Other local law enforcement agencies like the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office and Western Michigan University also use the facility to train their K9s in conjunction with the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.

RELATED: Allegan County Sheriff’s Office gets new K-9 with donation

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