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County gives canine officer to Erie PD

By PAM EGGEMEIER peggemeier@saukvalley.com 815-625-3600, ext. 5570 @pam_eggemeierMay 23, 2019

MORRISON – Nicom, Whiteside County’s canine officer since 2014, is changing jobs to be with the only boss he’s ever known.

The Whiteside County Board on Tuesday voted to give the 6-and-a-half-year-old German shepherd to the Erie Police Department.

Nicom will be reunited with his handler, former Whiteside County Deputy Rollie Elder, who left to become police chief in Erie. Elder was sworn in April 9.

When Elder took the Erie job, Whiteside County Sheriff John Booker suggested the dog also make the move.

“It would have been an added expense for him to train with someone else, and it might be difficult for the dog, at this age, to adjust to a new handler, so this seemed like a good idea for everyone,” Booker said.

Elder speaks to Nicom in Dutch – the dog was brought to this country from Holland and Elder picked him up at Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania. Nicom is healthy and can perform all of his duties, which include sniffing for drugs, tracking suspects, and public relations appearances, Booker said.

The county sheriff’s office plans to replace Nicom eventually, but the department is down two deputies and Booker first needs to address that personnel situation.

The Erie and Fulton police departments now have the only canine officers in Whiteside County. Money and time make it challenging to have the dogs on staff.

“It’s a big expense for an agency, and it’s a full-time commitment for an officer,” Booker said. “We’ll get another dog down the road, but we haven’t started looking for one.”

Between buying and training the dog, police departments can plan to spend $8,000 to $10,000 initially. Many departments, including Whiteside County, rely on donations for canine officers, but the money for Nicom’s successor is already there.

“We have the money set aside in the canine fund and we have the vehicle already, but we’re just waiting for a better time to get one,” Booker said.

The county might even look into getting a comfort dog to take on the community relations duties and work with children.

The Sterling Police Department’s comfort dog, Brinkley, joined the force in 2017, tasked with attending special events and working with community youth and abuse victims.

Lacey, a Labrador mix from Happy Tails Humane Society, was adopted in 2016 to be the live-in community service dog for the Rock Falls Police Department.

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