Mandan’s newest police officer will draw no salary, though he’ll work as many hours as his partner.
He’s of Czech descent but answers to commands spoken in Dutch.
And he’ll be expected to work like a dog. But then, he’s likely OK with that.
Kupper, a German shepherd a few months short of 2 years old, became the department’s first canine staff member in early August. He and his handler, Officer Scott Warzecha, returned from training on Aug. 4.
“He’s already made a few arrests,” Deputy Chief Lori Flaten said.
The department started looking into the possibility of a K-9 several years ago, when Jason Ziegler became chief of police. More recently, Mandan businessman Bob Kupper told Ziegler he would donate $12,000 if the city would take care of the rest of the cost.
“I like dogs, K-9s and service dogs,” Bob Kupper said. “I thought Mandan should have one.”
The two Kuppers met last week at a city commission meeting, where Bob Kupper learned the dog’s name.
“That was quite a surprise,” he said.
Bob Kupper’s contribution was followed by an anonymous donation of $2,000. The cost of the dog and training was about $14,500. Buying a kennel, outfitting a squad vehicle and other expenses brought the total cost to about $21,000. The dog will live with Warzecha and his family.
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The department chose Kupper from the dogs available at Shallow Creek Kennel in Pennsylvania, whose clients include U.S. military special operations forces, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the New York Police Department. Shallow Creek brings many of its dogs from Europe, and Kupper’s roots are in the Czech Republic. Warzecha chose him for his enthusiasm and work ethic.
The kennel takes a dog’s training to a certain level before work starts with the handler. Warzecha went to Pennsylvania in June to start six weeks of daily instruction, which was hands-on and intense, he said. All the handlers took a turn in the bite suit.
“Most of them came back with battle scars, bruises on the back of their arms,” Warzecha said.
Kupper is trained in tracking, apprehension, evidence searching, building searching and narcotics detection. The narcotics portion of his training focused on cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, and their derivatives. His training will be ongoing. Warzecha will work with him on narcotics training for two hours per week, for example.
“They’re not robots,” Warzecha said. “There are always little things to work on. That’s why we continuously train.”
The two are certified through the North American Police Work Dog Association and will re-certify annually.
Kupper worked his first shift on Aug. 7, during which he made a few sniffs. None led to an arrest. He got on the board the next week, giving officers probable cause that led to some small drug seizures.
It’s Warzecha’s first time as a dog handler. Kupper came to Mandan trained at a high level and the two will now continue to learn together. Warzecha, a 12-year police veteran, said he’s as much a student as the dog.
“It’s up to me to catch up,” he said.