Making the Rounds With the Rooks County Sheriff’s Office & K9 Unit
Before temperatures plummeted and everyone got caught up in the holiday spirit, we had an opportunity to speak to another one of the winners of the Aftermath 2017 K9 Grant Competition. K9 Handler and Sergeant Nolan Weiser of the Rooks County Sheriffs Department of Kansas talked with us about Deputy Koda and life in the Sunflower state.
To see all the interviews with our 2017 winners, browse our blog here.
We Have a Feeling We’re in Kansas
Like many of 2017’s K9 grant winners, Rooks County is best described as a small, tight-knit community. The population averages around nine thousand people. Because of the county’s location at the center of the state, situated between two US highways, most of the area’s crime is related to drugs moving in and out of the community. “I would say that 90% of crime here is related to drugs or alcohol,” Sgt. Weiser stated.
And that’s where Deputy K9 Koda comes in. “Since we got Koda, we’ve had 5 or 6 meth cases and 10 or more marijuana cases. Our biggest focus is drug enforcement. Drug trafficking happens a lot more than you think. A goal of ours would be to have a big drug bust on the highway. The more drugs we remove from the streets, the more lives we save.”
A Little Help From Home
Sergeant Weiser credits his wife with helping the department win the $500 grant. “We put the info on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook. Our first post on the page had been up only 6 or 7 days and 20,000 people viewed it. That made me realize that if we kept it going, we would have a chance at winning a grant.”
Because of the area’s low population and limited budget, Koda and Sergeant Weiser are the only members of the Rooks County K9 unit. The unit first began in 2013 with Koda. The community purchased him for the department; Stockton City alone donated $2,000. “That is why we call Koda the people of Rooks County’s dog,” his handler explained.
Koda has had 3 handlers in the past 4 years. Says Weiser: “I was at another department at the time the second handler was leaving the position for another department. The Sheriff called to offer me the K9 officer position because I had expressed an interest in working with a K9.”
From Therapy Dog to Crime Fighter
More than just a crime fighter, Koda’s main role is community building. “Kids are especially excited about the dog. Just having him around can make a difficult situation easier. “We had a case where a woman and her son were at the station. They were shaken up. I asked her son if he liked dogs and he said yes. I brought him over to Koda to pet him and it cheered him up. He is almost a therapy dog.”
Koda even won over the heart of Sgt. Weiser’s mother. “She’s not an animal person, but she loves looking at photos of him because she says it makes her happy.”
The rest of the interview focused on Koda’s unique personality: “He is very happy all of the time,” Sergeant Weiser said of his four-pawed partner. “I know dogs can’t smile, but I swear Koda smiles at me. He is a big puppy who loves both working and playing. He is so friendly with people. He allows everyone to pet him. I was worried that he may become too soft due to all of his interaction with people petting him, but he easily switches right back to work mode and is as focused as ever.”
On the road, Deputy Koda is opinionated about his partner’s driving and will nudge the Sergeant if he feels he’s not getting enough attention. “Sometimes I’ll think he is sleeping in the back and I’ll go through a drive-thru and eat my food in the car. Next thing I know he is right next to my face, trying to get to my food.”
To a small community like Rooks County, even a small grant can be of significant value. Funds from the Aftermath K9 grant will help offset some Koda’s day-to-day expenses, and possibly a few fast food treats.