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Insight from the West Fargo PD: Police canine seizes two in one week

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opinion Fargo, 58102
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

On Feb. 17 and again on Feb. 21, West Fargo police canine Disco seized two males suspected of committing felonies in West Fargo. In Monday’s incident, citizens in the Meadowridge area of West Fargo reported a man who appeared to be trying to enter homes. The callers provided a description of the male and his last known location. Officer Joe Birrenkott was responding to the area and spotted the male leaving a home through the front door. The male returned inside after seeing Birrenkott. Officers next saw the subject as he attempted leaving from the back of the home. Again the subject returned into the home after seeing officers. Officers attempted to contact the subject from outside the home, but the subject did not respond. West Fargo police canine handler Pete Nielsen and Disco entered the home and located the subject hiding under a bed in the basement. The subject failed to surrender and was bitten on the shoulder. Rick Gregory Nogoski, 29, Fargo was arrested on the charge of burglary and outstanding warrants.

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On Feb. 21 a woman reported being assaulted and held against her will in her home by an ex-boyfriend. The female victim believed the male to still be in her residence. West Fargo police officers as well as canine handler Nielsen and Disco responded to the home in an attempt to locate the suspect. The suspect failed to knowledge verbal commands given by the officers. Nielsen and Disco searched the house and found the subject hiding in the attic. The subject failed to surrender and was bitten in the shoulder. Jordan Hejtmanek, 26, Mantador, was arrested on the charge of felonious restraint, domestic aggravated assault and menacing. The two incidents were the first seizures conducted by Disco.

West Fargo police canine Disco is a Belgian Shepherd and was purchased by the West Fargo Police Department in October 2010 from North Iowa K9, Inc. Disco was imported from Slovakia and trained in narcotics detection and police patrol operations. Police patrol operations include training in obedience; tracking; article and building searches; and apprehension. Canine handler Nielsen completed his initial training with Disco and master trainer Paul Samuelson of North Iowa K9. Disco and Nielson conduct additional training each week, compete in police canine trials and competitions and are required to maintain the appropriate level of certification for their duties.

Nielsen is the only canine handler for Disco. Nielsen is assigned a specially equipped patrol vehicle that he uses to transport Disco while at work. Nielsen is the sole person responsible for the care and feeding of Disco. During non-duty hours, Disco lives with Nielsen and his family at Nielsen’s home. Disco is allowed limited socialization with family members and Nielsen’s other pets.

Police canines are a valuable tool to law enforcement. The dog’s superior sense of smell allows for the detection of narcotics and explosives and the locating of articles and subjects who are the focus of a search. The dog’s speed and agility aids in the apprehension of fleeing felons. Police canines also offer additional protection for their handlers from the physical threats certain circumstances present. The police canine and the canine handler are true partners in the fight against crime.

Michael Reitan is the assistant police chief in West Fargo

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