IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – The Idaho Falls Police Department announced the expansion of the IFPD Police K-9 Unit with the addition of several new police dogs to the department.
For the past several years, IFPD has had two to three canine (K-9) handlers and dogs – two trained in narcotics detection and one trained in explosives detection.
Today, IFPD has six police K-9s in various stages of active service and training, and two who are expected to retire by the end of this year.
The expansion of the IFPD K-9 Unit was made possible through assistance from several grants and donations, with the support of Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and the Idaho Falls City Council. The cost of acquiring a police K-9 and the necessary training and certification process is normally upward of $15,000 per K-9. Through donations, grants, resourcefulness and in-house training expertise, the cost to Idaho Falls taxpayers has been dramatically reduced. At the same time, the expertise availability of K-9s as a police resource have expanded.
Ardis is a male two-year-old English Lab who has been with the Idaho Falls Police Department since May of 2022. Ardis, an Electronic Storage Detection K-9, is partnered with Detective Jared Mendenhall in the Investigations and Special Operations Bureau. Detective Mendenhall is part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce through the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.
Ardis’s specialty is one that is quite rare across the country. In fact, Ardis and his handler are only the second certified ESD K-9 team in the state of Idaho. Detective Mendenhall and K-9 Ardis have already been utilized across the state as part of the ICAC Taskforce, in addition to their work in Idaho Falls. Ardis was obtained through a grant from Operation Underground Railroad.
Argo is a male three-year-old German Shepherd who has been with the Idaho Falls Police Department since August of 2020. Argo is partnered with Officer Mitch Bierma in the Patrol Bureau, and together they are certified in narcotics detection, article search, tracking and apprehension. Argo was obtained at a reduced cost to the department after a retired IFPD officer referred Argo to IFPD. Argo was previously placed in a healthcare security setting in another state. After recognizing that Argo was better suited for police work and with the department in need of a new police K-9, IFPD was able to obtain Argo at a fraction of the normal cost. Skadi is a female one-year-old Belgian Malinois mixed breed dog who joined IFPD in May 2022.
Skadi is training to become an Explosives Detection and Tracking K-9 with her handler, Detective David Shanor. Detective Shanor is part of the Investigations and Special Operations Bureau. When certified, he and Skadi will serve as part of the Idaho Falls Regional Bomb Squad which serves the greater Eastern Idaho region. Skadi was adopted by IFPD from the Blackfoot Animal Shelter after being transferred from a shelter in California. Skadi’s previous owners surrendered her after recognizing that her high-drive, while ideal for police work, was not suited to their lifestyle.
Ghost, Rip and Kahn all joined IFPD last month after being procured from a police dog training facility in Alabama. All three are in training to become certified with their handlers in Narcotic Detection and Apprehension in the Patrol Bureau. Ghost, a male two-year-old German Shepherd, is paired with Officer Jose Abreo. Rip, a male one-year-old German Shepherd, is paired with Officer Braden Bestor. Kahn a one-year-old German Shepherd, is paired with Sergeant Gabe Klepich.
The purchase of these police dogs was made possible through grants from the Department of Energy, in partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory, and the Cross Foundation, in partnership with the Greater Idaho Falls Police Foundation.
Sergeant Klepich, a 21-year veteran of the department, is nationally certified in the instruction and training of law enforcement K-9s. Sgt. Klepich is overseeing the training of Skadi, Ghost, Rip, Kahn and their human police officer counterparts, saving the department thousands of dollars in external training costs. These four dogs and their handlers will each be required to pass Idaho POST certification processes in order to begin work in the field. All are doing well in training thus far. Community members can follow the K-9 Units training on the Idaho Falls Police Department Facebook and Instagram pages.
Two police dogs who have served the past several years with the Idaho Falls Police Department are preparing to retire. K-9 Rocky, an eight-year-old Belgian Malinois, has served with the department since 2015. He and his partner, Sergeant Klepich, are certified in Narcotics Detection and Apprehension. Together they have successfully located and removed a large quantity of illegal drugs from the streets of Idaho Falls over the past eight years. Rocky will continue to live with Sergeant Klepich in his retirement.
K-9 Harry, a nine-year-old Belgian Malinois, has served with the department since 2016. K-9 Harry, an Explosive Ordinance and Apprehension K-9, is partnered with Officer Braden Bestor. K-9 Harry has spent the past seven years working within the IFPD Patrol Bureau and with the Idaho Falls Regional Bomb Squad. In his retirement, Harry will continue to live with Officer Bestor.
K-9 Harry and K-9 Rocky will continue to work within the Idaho Falls Police Department until the new police dogs and handlers are certified to ensure a seamless transition of detection capabilities within the department and the Idaho Falls community. The Idaho Falls Police Department expects to host a community retirement send-off for these K-9s in the coming months.
In preparation for these upcoming retirements the Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police is establishing a retirement fund to support costs associated with the ongoing care of retired Idaho Falls Police K-9s. As is standard in law enforcement across the country, handlers normally keep their retired police canines and become personally responsible for them, including financial costs of food, medical care, and other needs.
The Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary, an non-profit organization of police spouses and family members, is hosting a fundraiser selling replica miniature plush police stuffed animals to benefit the retired K-9 fund. Each of the eight stuffed animals are designed to match a current IFPD police K-9, including a custom Idaho Falls Police K-9 Office badge for their dog tag. Anyone interested in purchasing a replica K-9 can visit the Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary Facebook page or email the Auxiliary at IFPDaux06@gmail.com. Direct donations to the retired police K-9 fund can also be made by contacting the Idaho Falls Fraternal Order of Police.