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MPD names new canine handler

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Newly appointed K9 Handler for the Marshalltown Police Department, Nick Svoboda, met his furry partner Atlas on July 5 and will head off to K9 School in Buffalo, Minnesota, in August with his new partner.

The Marshalltown Police Department has hired one of its own to serve as the department’s new canine handler.

Currently on the day shift patrol, Officer Nick Svoboda is going to begin serving as the K9 Handler for the department, following K9 training.

“I’m very honored to be in this position. I know that there’s a very long history of excellent K9 program with the Marshalltown Police Department. I’m excited to be continuing that and I’m very fortunate that they selected me to be the next K9 handler.

To get this position, Svoboda said he had to submit a resume, go through interviews and complete a physical, all which started in late April.

Prior to being named K9 handler, Svoboda spent nearly four years in the department, doing a variety of different jobs.

“Officer Svoboda has been with us for a few years now and he’s really just doing a fantastic job with everything in the department,” Lieutenant Kiel Stevenson said.

Lt. Stevenson praised Svoboda’s demeanor and his demeanor to stay calm.

“He’s calm and he’s able to handle stuff, I think he’s got a real good demeanor to work with the dog,” Stevenson said.

He said Svoboda’s primary role will be being the K9 Handler but that he may still be able to go out on some regular calls.

With nearly four years in the police department under his belt, Svoboda spoke highly of the workplace environment within the department.

“It’s been great, I’ve learned a lot, Marshalltown is a great department to work for,” Svoboda said. “I have some awesome co-workers that I work with and I’m very happy that I’m working for the Marshalltown Police Department. There’s a lot of opportunities, this just being one of them, so I’m excited to continue my career here with this department.”

Svoboda and his canine partner, Atlas, are attending Basic K9 School beginning Aug. 16 in Buffalo, Minnesota, and will be there for 10 weeks.

According to a press release, the training will be centered around obedience and conducting searches (narcotics, evidence, criminal apprehension, etc).

This K9 School, Performance Kennels Inc., is the same school that trained the Marshalltown Police Department’s previous canine’s, according to a press release.

Svoboda and canine Atlas will both be heading to the Basic K9 School in August.

Atlas is a 13 month old German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix who came to the United States from Slovakia.

Atlas is currently the only canine that department has, after the two canines the department had retired in January.

Lt. Stevenson said that they had a say in the new canine the department could bring in.

“The vendor that we’re going through and the training that we’re going through, they bring those dogs in from Slovakia,” Stevenson said. “The head trainer, who has 30 plus years in the business, actually handpicks these dogs that are bred specifically for police work and this kind of stuff, and he hands the dogs that he brings back. Then out of those dogs, we get to pick what dog we want.”

The department is probably bringing in another canine in the next year or two, according to Stevenson.

Svoboda met his new partner on July 5 and is spending time getting acquainted with him and his family before they both go off to training.

“We’ve had a lot of time to hang out and bond with each other and I’m working on some obedience stuff with him,” Svoboda said.

Svoboda said Atlas has settled in well with him and his family.

He said that he’s seen a lot of growth from Atlas in obedience training since they met a little over two weeks ago.

Svoboda didn’t specifically point out one thing that he thought would be his favorite part of his new job. Rather, he said he’s excited to find out.

“I think there’s a lot of good positive things that can come with being the K9 handler, there’s a lot of good community interaction that comes with it,” Svoboda said. “I think there’s a lot of good officer safety that comes with it, I think it’s gonna be fun and I’m really looking forward to finding that out.”

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Contact Sam Stuve at 641-753-6611 or at sstuve@timesrepublican.com

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