Merrill Police Department K-9 Officer Matt Drabek with Eros.
Merrill Police Department K-9 Officer Matt Drabek with Eros.
The Merrill Police Department newest member, “Eros,” has already proved his worth after his first week of duty. The two-year-old German Shepherd has assisted officers in a half dozen incidents that have led to arrests or citations.
K-9 Officer Matt Drabek and Eros began duty on Monday, May 12. The K-9 unit is currently assigned to the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift, and will be expected to work a variety of shifts throughout the remainder of this year. 
Eros was born in Germany and had his initial training there, so all his commands are in German. Eros has been in the United States since January and underwent training in drug detection and tracking and trailing, which will make him a dual-purpose dog for the department. 
Drabek took four weeks of training with Eros to learn his commands and get to know him.
“The majority of training is learning how to read your dog,” he said. 
A drug dog associates the odor of drugs with getting a reward. In Eros’ case, that reward is a favorite toy, a rolled up towel.
“Instead of working for a paycheck, he’s working for that rolled up towel,” Drabek said.
As a tracking and trailing dog, Eros will be used to find suspects or lost individuals. 
Drabek said he volunteered for the job when it became available.
“It was something I wanted to get into when I started here,” he said.
After being chosen as the department’ K-9 officer, Drabek had a hand in picking out Eros from the kennel. Because Eros lives at Drabek’s house and he has three young children, he wanted a friendly dog. Eros’ amiable disposition also makes him ideal to use for demonstrations and visits to the schools. 
Prior to getting Eros, the Merrill Police Department was dependent on calling in dogs from other agencies when they needed them. They requested dogs from Tomahawk and Wausau, when they were available.
“It’s no secret Merrill has a drug problem,” Drabek said. “It wasn’t uncommon that once a week we were requesting a dog from another agency.”
The K-9 program became a possibility after the Bierman Family Foundation offered grant money for it.
“In October 2013, the Bierman Family Foundation made it possible for the Merrill Police Department to develop and deploy their first K-9 Unit, with a very generous donation,” said Police Chief Ken Neff. “The Merrill Police Department is extremely appreciative of the generosity of the Bierman family.” 
Even though the funds granted by the Bierman Foundation are substantial, the Merrill Police K-9 Unit will require continued community support in order to sustain itself for the future. With additional community support, the Merrill Police canine can exist and function without using taxpayer dollars or additional staff. The Merrill Police Department is currently offering a unique collector’s challenge coin to anyone wishing to donate a minimum of $20 to the K-9 fund. 
“The K-9 Unit will provide another valuable tool to law enforcement in the City of Merrill to keep the community safe and maintain a quality of life expected by its citizens,” said Neff. 
Anyone wishing to contribute to the Merrill Police Department K-9 Unit can contact the Police Department for more information.