TALLMADGE:  If you give a dog a camera, will you catch a criminal? The Tallmadge Police Department is giving that a try.

Tallmadge residents Scott L and Lise Hileman recently presented a $700 check from the Rubber City Kennel Club to Police Officer Nate Ickes for use in the city’s K9 division. Ickes used the funds to purchase a GoPro digital camera and harness for his partner, an enthusiastic 8-year-named Axel. An 85-pound German Shepherd who hails from Canada, Axel has been paired with Ickes since 2012.

"… We decided … we would use Tallmadge as kind of the experiment area where we will try the canine unit with a GoPro, see how it works, have Mr. Ickes and Axel come back to us and talk to us about it, see if they’ve been able to use it and if it was really worthwhile … ," Scott Hileman reported. "We will then use our funds to give other K9 units around the area GoPro units, so [they’re] kind of like our lab right now."

Ickes said the GoPro will be utilized in training and on the job. "Axel will begin wearing the GoPro (which will be attached to a harness on his back) on training days during tracking, building/area search, obedience, and controlled aggression (bite work)," Ickes said. "This will allow the officer to watch the video back after training and learn from it. It will allow the officer to see what he/she needs to work on, and be able to watch it from the K-9’s perspective. The GoPro will also be used on the road, (when applicable)."

Axel and Ickes are required by the state of Ohio to train at least 16 hours a month for the canine to maintain his commission. "We’re the trial dog on the camera, but … I’m going to take it to the trainings with us, and let the other dogs use it and see if they like it."

Ickes has served with the Tallmadge Police Department since 2004. "When the position of K-9 officer was posted, I thought it was a awesome opportunity to challenge myself in my law enforcement career," he says. "It’s been a lot of work, and training, but wouldn’t change a thing."

K-9s usually work until they are 10 or 11 years old, according to Ickes. When he’s not on the job, Ickes says, Axel adjusts quickly from work mode to home mode, enjoying the company of Ickes’ wife, Sarah, and their three children, Cadence, Camryn, and Colin.

To make a donation to the K-9 unit, send a check made out to the Tallmadge FOP #111 to the attention of Nate Ickes at 53 Northeast Ave., or you may purchase a K-9 T-shirt by visiting the Tallmadge Police Department Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TallmadgePD/) by July 15 to pre-order one.

Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, ewalsh@recordpub.com or @EllinWalsh_RPC.