By Pat Maurer
Brewster and his handler Clare Patrol Officer Tom Francisco are learning how to be K-9 officers.
The two year-old German Shepherd will be a “multi-purpose” dog in the Clare Police Department in May after he and Officer Francisco complete the final four weeks of training while learning to work together.
Brewster will replace Chief Brian Gregory’s K-9 officer Swiper, who is slated to retire when Brewster and Officer Francisco take over.
Swiper and Gregory have been the Clare City Police K-9 team since 2009. Both have chosen to retire this year. “It’s a young man’s job,” Gregory said earlier. “Both Swiper and I are getting to old for it.”
There are two types of police dogs, Gregory explained, single purpose and multi-purpose. As a multi-purpose dog, Brewster is being trained as a tracking, search, narcotics and apprehension dog and is also trained to protect his handler at all times.
Brewster responds to commands in the Czech language. He was purchased from the Czech Republic with funds raised during the Clare Chamber and Rotary Brewfest last fall, said Clare Liaison Officer and Brewfest Committee member Brian David. Brewster was purchased through a broker who seeks out dogs raised specifically for police work, generally from overseas kennels.
Gregory said, “It’s the continuing support of the Clare City Commission that has allowed us to continue with this valuable program. We appreciate their support.”
The Brewfest event raised over $8,500, which was the amount donated to the Clare Police to cover the cost of the dog. Brewster was named in honor of the fundraiser. He has been training with Gregory since his arrival in Clare last November and already knows basic commands and some of the training he will need as part of an operational K-9 team. Gregory has donated his time to train Brewster.
As part of his business, “Northern Michigan K-9,” Gregory trains dogs for police and sheriff’s departments all over the United States.
The next four weeks of training, which begins April 7 and will be going on for approximately eight hours a day, five days a week during various shifts, will teach Brewster more about his job and also teach Officer Francisco, a new K-9 handler, how to work with the dog in all types of situations.
Francisco has been with the Clare Police Department for 14 months as a Patrol Officer. He works the night shift and will continue to handle that shift as part of the department’s K-9 team when he and Brewster take over.