The Marine City Police Department recently welcomed a new K-9 officer to the ranks.
K-9 officer Thor, a Dutch shepherd, joins adoptive sister Gretchen and owner and handler Phil Neumeyer at the department. Neumeyer retired from the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office in 2012 after 35 years with the agency and has spent the past 11 years as a K-9 handler. He purchased Gretchen when she was a pup and trained and certified her to work as a police dog.
Thor was already on order from the Netherlands when Neumeyer and Gretchen began working for the Marine City Police Department. The K-9 officers specialize in different areas: Gretchen specializing in narcotics and tracking, and Thor, being trained as a patrol dog, specializing in tracking and bomb detection.
Police dogs are typically trained as single-purpose or dual-purpose service dogs. Single-purpose dogs are mostly used for backup, personal protection and tracking. Dual-purpose dogs are more popular and trained to do everything the single-purpose dogs do, plus detection of either explosives or narcotics.
“It is my understanding that bomb dogs are pretty scarce throughout the state,” said Marine City Police Chief Jim Heaslip. “He’s just another resource for us and other agencies.”
Thor recently was used to assist in sweeping the new Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit before the facility’s opening in September.
Community involvement began at the onset of bringing the pup to the force. In need of a name, the students of Belle River and Holy Cross elementary schools were asked to choose from “Maverick,” “Dutch” or “Thor.” In what was a close race, “Thor” came out on top.
“It’s fantastic to have these dogs,” said Heaslip. “It’s a tool the community hasn’t seen. I haven’t heard anything negative from the community.”
The duo has very different personalities, Heaslip said.
“Gretchen enters the office and will lie under the desk,” he said. “She is just her own little animal. Thor wants to run and play. But when Phil tells them a command, they are all business.”
While Gretchen receives her commands in German, Neumeyer had to learn Dutch in order to handle Thor.
Neumeyer and his dogs are part-time employees of the police department. He has provided the training and care for the animals at no cost to the city.
As a member of the Michigan Municipal League, the city is covered under the organization’s insurance. Neumeyer also carries his own insurance in case the dogs are injured or die in the line of duty.
Pamela Binsfeld is a staff writer at The Voice. She can be contacted at 586-273-6197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.