Rookie police K-9 making impact in community

There’s a new officer at the Seymour Police Department, and his accomplishments already are making this rookie a standout on the force.

In only a couple of months on the job, K-9 Edi, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois has assisted his partner, Officer Devlin McMindes, in making the community safer.

Edi has contributed to several drug-related arrests in his start with the department, including locating methamphetamine, marijuana and illegal narcotics along with syringes and drug paraphernalia during vehicle searches.

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He also has been utilized in several building searches — one that led to the arrest of a felon who was hiding in the attic of a residence. The dog’s presence was enough to convince the man to surrender, resulting in a peaceful end to what could have been a very dangerous situation, McMindes said.

Although McMindes has been around dogs much of his life, this is the first time he has worked with one professionally. It was McMindes who requested to become a K-9 handler.

He went door to door to different businesses in Seymour in an attempt to raise the nearly $15,000 needed to add a second dog to the department. McMindes is a four-year veteran of the Seymour Police Department.

One of the biggest supporters of the cause was Pet Supplies Plus Distribution Center in Seymour, which donated $5,000 and pledged to provide all of the food and toys Edi will need for the duration of his service.

McMindes picked up Edi from Vohne Liche Kennels, a training facility for police service dogs in Denver, Indiana, on May 14. But Edi actually came from the Netherlands, so McMindes gives his commands in Dutch.

Beginning in May, Edi and McMindes went through six weeks of rigorous training at Vohne Liche Kennels. Edi graduated June 29 as a certified dual-purpose working dog, ready to hit the streets.

“We spent a lot of time together,” McMindes said. “The majority of that six weeks is getting used to each other. Learning to be able to read his behaviors is probably the single most important thing as far as handling him.”

During their training, they would start and end the day by tracking, and in between, they would run an obstacle course for agility and work on obedience. The first two weeks, they spent learning detection, followed by patrol work and then mixing the two.

“You may have area searches for narcotics, area searches for an individual and it goes back and forth,” he said. “It’s exposing these dogs to a multitude of different things so they learn to adapt quickly from one scenario to another.”

Edi’s first day working for the Seymour Police Department was July 2, and he already has been used on more than 60 calls.

“The majority of that has been drug detection,” McMindes said.

Being one of only two police K-9s available in Jackson County, Edi and McMindes stay plenty busy. Although they work third shift, they can be called in to assist other local police agencies, including the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police.

The other Seymour Police K-9 unit is Ace, and his handler Cpl. Adam Surface.

McMindes said Edi loves working so much that a lot of times, he doesn’t want to get back in the police car.

“He’s not done. He wants to keep going,” McMindes said.

Personality-wise, Edi is calmer and gentler than what most people think of when they think of a police dog.

“He’s a very level-headed dog. I’ve had combative people in the prisoner partition of my car throwing a fit, and he doesn’t bat an eye at it,” McMindes said. “It really doesn’t bother him at all.”

But he’s also highly driven, McMindes said.

Some of that may have to do with the fact Edi isn’t a puppy. McMindes said he chose an older dog for that very reason.

“He’s got a little bit more maturity to him,” McMindes said. “I really liked his demeanor.”

Getting used to having Edi around 24/7 has been a new and different experience for McMindes, but he has loved every minute of it, he said.

“It’s not as difficult as you would think, but it’s definitely been a lifestyle change,” he said. “I’ve had dogs my whole life, but I haven’t had one in awhile, so he keeps it exciting.”

To keep Edi sharp, McMindes works with him nearly every day, even when they aren’t on duty.

“Even on our days off, a lot of those days, we’ll go and train,” he said. “There’s always something we can work on, but just staying active and engaged with him whether we’re working or not has been a big help.”

The one thing that has surprised McMindes about Edi is how well he gets along with other police officers on his squad. During the search for the wanted man hiding in an attic, McMindes said Edi fell right into doing what he was taught to do.

“I didn’t have to worry about him being aggressive to them,” he said. “For him to be able to help us locate somebody before we get into a position where it could become dangerous for us, that’s pretty special.”

Although Edi has a good track record so far, there are plenty of things for them to work on moving forward, McMindes said. They work with trainers twice a month, and McMindes does additional training on his own with Edi. They have to get recertified annually.

McMindes said there are a lot of people who have helped him and been supportive throughout the whole process, including Surface and Ace.

“Adam has been great helping me on some things. I definitely pick his brain a lot,” McMindes said. “Anybody that I can learn from, the better.”

He hopes to be able to use Edi for community outreach, too, taking him to schools and other places for demonstrations.

“That will definitely be part of the whole package of what we are trying to do with him,” McMindes said.

Edi and McMindes already have visited Pet Supplies Plus to allow the company to see their investment.

“We’ve walked him through the entire warehouse, and they’ve had the opportunity to meet him,” McMindes said.

He made it a priority as soon as they got back from training to visit and thank all of those who made it possible for Edi to come to Seymour.

“It has been a long road to get here. It’s a lot of money and a lot of work, a lot of long days,” he said. “But it’s been worth it, every bit of it.”

McMindes said he can’t think of a better job than being a K-9 officer.

“I don’t think you can necessarily have a better job,” he said. “You get to come to work and you’re not confined to a building and you get to bring a dog with you.”