The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Mar. 1, 2024

Van Wert PD has a new 4-legged officer

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

The Van Wert Police Department has a new officer and he’ll start training on Monday.

Figaro, a 1 1/2 year-old Dutch Shepherd from Hungary, was selected Friday morning by Van Wert Police Chief Doug Weigle and Officer Elijah Wortman, who will serve as Figaro’s handler. Weigle and Wortman traveled to Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Indiana, to select the dog.

Officer Elijah Wortman will serve as the handler for the Van Wert Police Department’s new K9, Figaro. Photo submitted

“Officer Wortman has been a very dedicated and dependable employee of the Van Wert Police Department,” Weigle said. “He is proactive and he has shown to have all of the qualities needed to be chosen.”

Starting Monday, Wortman and Figaro will spend the next six weeks training. Once the training is complete, both will need to be certified through the State of Ohio. Lt. Rob Black, a previous K9 handler will be assigned as the K9 supervisor.

Chief Weigle said the K9 program is being funded by the city and is being revived to provide more opportunities for officers. Figaro becomes the Van Wert Police Department’s first K9 since March of 2017.

“The dog will be trained on drugs and to help search for people when needed,” he explained. “It will help speed up the process for building clearing and a K-9 program is always good for public relations.”

Below is the history of the police department’s K9 program:

Bismark: October, 1981-June, 1984; Handler: Officer Tom Bartz
Branko: March, 1984-September, 1989; Handler: Officer Dick Fry
Bo: June,1992-December, 1999; Handler Officer: Tim Blackmore
Casper: May, 2000-December, 2005; Handler: Officer Tim Blackmore
Taco: November, 2005-November, 2011; Handler: Officer Rob Black
Lakkie: January, 2006-August, 2011; Handler: Officer Steve Boroff
Bade: November, 2011-March, 2017; Handler: Officer Jeremy Stemen

POSTED: 02/10/24 at 12:55 am. FILED UNDER: News