WEST BRANCH – Michigan State Police have announced the addition of a canine team to the West Branch Post.
Bauer, a young German Shepard male, reported for duty Aug. 29 at the post after 14 weeks of intensive training in Lansing with his handler, Trooper Kyle Rettell. The MSP West Branch Post has not had a canine team since the early 1990s.
Trooper Rettell and Bauer have been trained in several areas, to include:
• Tracking: MSP canines are trained to follow human scent. If it is known where a wanted or missing person walked, the canine can be placed on this track and will generally follow it. If it is not known where a wanted or missing person walked, the canine can search an area and will follow any track found that leads out of the area.
• Building Search: When a wanted person is believed to be in a building, a police canine can search the building by direct, free-floating, and airborne human scents.
• Area Search: An area search permits the canine to search an area for airborne scent when no track can be established. This type of search can be used for missing or lost persons as well as fugitives where a track is not practical because of contamination or age.
• Property Search: MSP canines are trained to search for any article with human scent on it. They do not have to smell the person who handled the article before searching for it.
• Narcotics Detection: The canine team is trained to detect narcotics odors in several environments, such as buildings, people, packages and other objects.
Rettell, a seven-year veteran of the MSP and a 2014 graduate of the 126th Trooper Recruit School, entered canine handler training in late March after a lengthy selection and interview process. Rettell has spent his entire career thus far at the West Branch Post; he obtained his bachelor’s degree from Ferris State University prior to enlisting with the department and resides in the post area with his family and Bauer.
According to the MSP, the use of the canine team is available to its local and state partners, as well, should their specialized services be needed. Currently, the department has more than 50 canines strategically placed throughout the state whose handlers answer calls for service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The unit handles more than 5,000 requests for services annually, making it one of the largest and busiest in the country, according to the MSP.