MARQUETTE — No matter what happens after his retirement, Lt. Marty Munger will always be known as the Marquette Police Department’s first K-9 handler.
Munger, along with his K-9, Frodo, were honored at their retirement ceremony Friday at Marquette City Hall.
“(It’s) through his unselfishness, his willingness to respond at any time, any place and for any agency that the Marquette city police has been able to expand K-9 services with a second K-9 unit,” Chief Blake Rieboldt said.
Munger expressed his appreciation for those attending the ceremony.
“And I’m sure Frodo does too,” Munger said.
He told the crowd he had a “great” career.
“It was an honor and a pleasure to work with everyone here, whether we had differences or debates,” Munger said. “That was all part of the working process.”
Rieboldt listed Munger’s long background and list of achievements.
Munger, who grew up in downstate Swartz Creek, served in the U.S. Air Force in a law-enforcement capacity. He was hired in 1992 by the Marquette Police Department where he has served in several capacities, including patrol officer as well as K-9 officer for the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team.
Munger began the K-9 program at MPD in 2003, Rieboldt said, with the purchase of the late K-9 Nero.
“Let me tell you, it was a learning experience, for both Marty and for everybody,” Rieboldt said.
In fact, a vehicle was specially created for him, with a Chevrolet S-10 Blazer turned into a K-9 vehicle out of old aluminum plates, “stop” and “no parking” signs, and doormats, he said.
“But that’s how it started,” Rieboldt said. “Through his dedication, sacrifice, he was able to build that program to what it is today. So, that’s basically Marty’s legacy here at Marquette PD, in my opinion.”
He noted Munger built relationships with neighboring police agencies as well as federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Rieboldt said that over the years, Munger and Nero tracked many fleeing suspects, detected drugs in many venues and seized property and cash, the largest haul being a $47,000 cash seizure in 2006.
Nero was taken out of service in 2012.
Munger’s K-9 service has extended beyond strictly a criminal capacity.
“He and both K-9 Nero and K-9 Frodo have been active in not only law-enforcement functions but also community functions involving children and adults,” Rieboldt said.
In fact, Munger keeps a Facebook page entitled “Canine Frodo.”
He has many memories of Frodo, but one that sticks out was when he was asked by U.S. Customs to search a freighter with fellow officer Todd Collins.
Unfortunately, they had to use not a sturdy, professional-type ladder, but a “ladder you’d paint your house with,” Munger said.
“We literally had to carry our dogs on our shoulders,” Munger said.
Frodo, a Dutch shepherd that soon will be 8 years old, will spend his retirement as Munger’s pet.
Munger’s legacy will continue with officers Collins and Rick Neeves, who Munger has nurtured into filling K-9 handler roles, Rieboldt said.
Rieboldt said MPD had three K-9 dogs, with Nitro — strictly a bomb dog — being handled by Munger and Collins. With Munger and Frodo retiring, Collins now handles Scud, whose specialty is narcotics, tracking and officer protection, which were Frodo’s specialties. Neeves handles Nitro.
“Our goal down the road is to raise some money for some fundraising to purchase a second dog, a drug dog, for Rick,” Rieboldt said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.