ROCK FALLS – Ever since he was 16, Deputy Rollie Elder knew he wanted to work with police dogs, he said while standing next to Nicom, a one-and-a-half-year-old German shepherd and the newest addition to the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department’s force.
Elder has been a K-9 handler with the sheriff’s department since 2012. His first dog with the department, Blitz, was recently put down after he developed some mental health problems, Elder said.
Losing Blitz was hard, Elder admitted. But since he met Nicom a few months ago, and through 6 weeks of training the two had together in Pennsylvania, they have formed an incredibly close relationship.
Elder says that closeness is something his family shares, too. His wife and four children (ages 8, 12, 13, and 16) come together to help with training of Nicom.
“I’m blessed because I have the absolute best wife and the best kids in the world,” Elder said. “And we’re all a team.”
His son Nick in particular likes to help. Nick, 16, will be a sophomore at Rock Falls High School this year, but when he’s not playing sports, going to school, or with friends, he can often be found helping with Nicom.
Nick was with his father and Nicom in a gravel parking lot on a Friday afternoon to help Nicom demonstrate his tracking abilities.
The elder Elder said a few words to Nicom in Dutch – Nicom was brought over from Holland before Rollie picked him up from Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania. The dog then was led over to conduct a search on a car where Elder had planted some marijuana for Nicom to hit on.
Like a charm, Nicom did it. Rollie rewarded him with a toy and a few Dutch words before putting him into the back of the squad again so Nick could lay out a track around the perimeter of the field before disappearing behind a shrub around the corner.
“He loves to find dope,” Elder said. “That’s his thing.”
About 5 minutes later, Rollie let Nicom out of the car again and, strapping a harness on him, led the dog to the edge of the field near where Nick began his walk. Nicom hit on the scent immediately and, nose to the ground, took off through the grass, sticking close to the fence.
Within a minute, he found Nick, leaped, and sank his teeth into the arm guard Nick was wearing.
As soon as Rollie took off Nicom’s harness, Nicom and Nick were buddies again.
The Dixon Police Department is also obtaining a new police dog from Pennsylvania’s Shallow Creek Kennels.
DPD’s old dog, Bobby, a vizsla, retired in May with some health issues after being in service since 2005, Lt. Brad Sibley said.
He now lives with the family of his handler, Officer Jeff Reagan.
The new dog will be handled by Officer Ryan McWethy, who will head out to Pennsylvania to train with the dog for 6 weeks in the fall.