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Canine Unit

The Fargo Police Department has three dogs assigned to its Canine unit.  The use of police canines helps keep officers out of danger and can even reduce the chance of serious injury to suspects in certain situations. Sometimes offenders try to hide from officers in places where a canine is much more efficient in finding them. Some of these offenders are very dangerous and may be armed. The use of the canines helps reduce the danger for officers during apprehension efforts. The canines may also allow officers to avoid using higher levels of force, including deadly force, to take offenders into custody.

Canines On Duty

Fargo's Canine units are increasingly valuable in the battle against drug use. They are particularly helpful in locating easily concealed drugs, such as methamphetamine. Besides assisting narcotics officers, the canines are very effective in searching vehicles and schools, tracking suspects and performing a variety of other tasks.  

Canine Earl K9 Earl was purchased from a sheriff’s deputy in Mower County Minnesota in 2007.  The deputy’s police canine,  Earl’s father, was a five time National Champion police dog. Earl was purchased by the city of Fargo when he was 10 months old and was paired with Sergeant George Vinson.  Earl is trained to find illicit drugs and track people.  The police department quickly saw dividends from Earl.  His proficiency in drug detection was excellent.  After being assigned to the day shift for a few years, Earl and George were assigned to the narcotics division in order to get more production out of Earl. Earl has received dozens of awards from the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) over the course of his career.  In 2010,  Earl won 10th place at the National Detector Dog competition.  The same year, he was awarded the USPCA National Case of the Year for finding three pounds of meth in the gasoline tank of an operational motor vehicle. Earl is still active on the day shift and in March of 2014, he was awarded “Top Dog” at a regional detector dog certification.   Earl had a perfect score and won first place out of 84 canine teams.  Despite Earl’s unprecedented success in drug detection at the Fargo Police Department, one of his favorite and most important services he provides is visiting almost every Fargo Public and Private School 5th grade classroom.  Having a positive impact on children is a critical aspect of the canine unit’s mission. 

Canine FalcoK9 Falco is a Belgian Malinois born on August 26, 2011 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Falco was bread as part of the Winnipeg Police Services breading program. Falco was purchased through Can Am Tactical K9 and paired with his handler, Officer David Cochran. Together, this team finished their patrol dog training in the fall of 2012.

You could say the Fargo Police canine unit is a close knit family. Falco is litter mates with Bali and is the nephew to Earl. This blood line has proven to be very successful. Falco is certified through the United States Police Canine Association and is trained in tracking, criminal apprehension, evidence recovery, and narcotic detection. Since working the street, Falco has made several “arrests” by tracking down suspects and locating narcotics that suspects have attempted to hide.  Some of these arrests have been recognized by the United States Police Canine Association through certificates and medallions.

Officer Cochran and Falco currently work the night shift, though the team responds anywhere Falco is needed.

Falco is a high drive dog that constantly needs to be doing something.  Falco goes home with Officer Cochran each day and on his down time goes for walks and runs. He also likes to climb the ladder and climbing wall on the swing set at home.

Canine BaliK9 Bali is a Belgian Malinois born on August 26, 2011 in Winnipeg Manitoba. Bali was born in a litter with K9 Falco which was a part of the Winnipeg Police breeding program. In August of 2012, Bali was purchased by the Fargo Police Department from Can Am Tactical K9. Bali was paired with his handler, Officer Jeremiah Ferris in August of 2012. In October of 2012, the team completed patrol training and started serving the city of Fargo together.

Bali is a dual purpose police dog trained in patrol work consisting of tracking, building searches, apprehension and article searches. In January of 2013, he was trained as a drug detection dog. Bali is trained on the odors of marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstacy, crack and cocaine.

While working on the street, Bali has shown to be proficient in his duties as a dual purpose police dog.  Bali has had multiple arrests of suspects on tracks and drug detection work. He has been recognized by the United States Police Canine Association for some of his work on the street such as the 2013 narcotics case of the quarter for the second quarter and medallions and citations for tracking suspects and narcotics work. In March of 2014, Bali placed third in narcotics room searches among 84 canine teams at the regional detector dog certification. 

Bali and his handler are assigned to the evening shift. While on duty Bali has a high drive to work and fulfill his duties as a police canine. When Bali is off duty he lives at home with his handler and enjoys going for runs and swimming at the lake.

Canine Training

The Canine officers and their partners receive their initial training out of state.  The training consists of many weeks away from home learning to work with their new partners and learning the new tasks they will perform. They then have to receive yearly certification through the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) to to be eligible to work the streets. They also have to attend a multiple week narcotics certification course out of state as well. Nitro and Earl are certified and have their narcotics certification.

Canines in the Community

In addition to law enforcement duties, the canine units are very popular at public events, such as the Fargo Police Community Picnic, Boy Scout meetings, Neighborhood Block Parties and many other events. Introducing the police canines to the public is a great way to develop rapport, especially with children. In our growing city, the need for canine officers and their partners will only continue to increase. If you would like the canine officer to attend an event, contact Sgt. George Vinson at (701) 476-4092 or gvinson@cityoffargo.com.