WICKLIFFE, Ohio — After a decade, Wickliffe police now have a tool at their disposal. A K9 named Bane has officially joined the ranks of the department.
“We’ve only been together for seven weeks now. So we’ve got a long way to go before we’re a fully-fledged team, but we’re getting there,” K9 dog handler Nick Merrifield said.
The patrolman picked Bane himself at Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania this summer. The handlers worked with the K9 before an intensive six-week training program for both partners.
“I would say it’s probably one of the toughest schools I’ve attended as a police officer,” Merrifield said. “I’ve had dogs my whole life and thought I might know a thing or two and figure out how to train a dog. I learned on day one – I don’t know anything.
Belgian Malinois have learned how to apprehend suspects, track people and objects, and find narcotics.
“His nose is his best tool and that’s something we needed here,” Merrifield said.
The K9’s expert nose is 10,000 to 100,000 times better at detecting odors than a human nose. The tool Bane brings to Wickliffe is something the police department hasn’t had since the last K9 officer retired in 2012 and hasn’t been replaced.
“It’s a huge advantage that we have and have missed over the last 10 years,” Merrifield explained.
Bane won’t just help Wickliffe. He will be able to help other departments that need a K9. It’s a benefit that Merrifield credits the community for making possible.
“The amount of donations we received funded the entire program, to the point that we didn’t have to fund anything from the city itself,” he said.
After K9 Rex retired in 2012, the position went unfilled due in part to the cost of purchasing and training a replacement. Merrifield, who aspired to be a K9 manager, received the department’s blessing to raise funds himself.
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In about 7 months, he raised about $80,000 in donations from businesses, families and individuals in Wickliffe and beyond. The money paid for the K9, the training and modernization of a K9 cruiser.
“Everyone loves dogs and everyone is very supportive of the dog being here in Wickliffe,” said Merrifield’s girlfriend, Natasha Reed, who helped with fundraising efforts.
News 5 has already spoken with the couple as they prepared a space in their home for the planned K9. Reed said he settled into family life outside of work.
“The kids love it. The kids are happy to have it. They’re very proud, they’re excited,” she said.
Merrifield hopes Bane won’t just be a tool for police work. He also plans to use it as an opportunity to build community relationships.
“Whenever I can get it out, I want to do it with the community so they can see exactly what their donations have done for the city,” he said.
K9 Bane will be officially sworn in by the Mayor of Wickliffe on Monday.
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