Canine cop introduces himself to ELO council

EAST LIVERPOOL – City Council had the opportunity to meet its newest police officer Monday night, with one member getting a nose-to-nose greeting.

Chief John Lane introduced canine officer Ivo (EE-vo), who started on the job with his handler, Patrolman Chad Tatgenhorst, on Saturday.

As Tatgenhorst related the training they underwent, Ivo took it upon himself to jump up on the table in front of Councilman Chuck Wade, bringing some chuckles from the room.

Tatgenhorst explained handlers are discouraged from disciplining their canines from jumping onto counters and tables since that is sometimes where they are searching for contraband items.

Describing the training he and Ivo underwent at Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania as “very intense,” Tatgenhorst said everything in the canine’s use is based on a three-pronged legal test: The seriousness of the crime, the threat of escape by a perpetrator and risk to the public or officer.

“We’re not going to send him out to minor violations,” Tatgenhorst emphasized.

Ivo is trained in tracking, searches, article searches, narcotic detection and aggression, and Tatgenhorst told council his strong suit is narcotics, saying, “He’s a sniffing machine.”

As an example of his partner’s prowess, Tatgenhorst told council that, on the day they finished training, he arrived home to have his daughter announce she’d lost a $20 bill in the yard.

Deciding to test Ivo’s abilities, Tatgenhorst set out around the yard with him. His partner found both pieces of the bill, which had been cut in half while Tatgenhorst was cutting grass, tossed in separate piles of cuttings.

But Ivo’s first priority “is to protect me,” Tatgenhorst said.

Asked by Wade how funds are holding out, Tatgenhorst said he has enough for the second installment on the special cruiser purchased for Ivo but once that is made next year, additional fund raisers will be needed.

The canine, their training and the cruiser have all be paid for with donations and fund raisers, no tax dollars.

He was also questioned by Councilman Scott Barrett whether Ivo has health insurance, saying St. Clair Township’s K-9 Axel has such coverage. Tatgenhorst said he will look into that.

The team was called out for its first search Sunday night and Ivo “found what he was supposed to find,” leading his partner right to a path made by suspects in a marijuana growing operation.

Tatgenhorst presented council with a framed collage containing the city department’s past K-9 units, including Chief Huey McDermott and Turk, Patrolman Ray “Skippy” Baker and Rosco and he and Ivo, noting he still needs to find a photo of former K-9 officers Vic Wolf and Kai to include in the frame.