TALLMADGE — The city has a new four-legged police officer.

Police K-9 officer Kato was sworn in to his new post by Mayor Dave Kline and received his badge at the city council meeting on May 9. Kato was accompanied by his handler, Officer Jason Corzine.

Kline called Kato “a sweet young pup.”

Corzine was joined at the meeting by his wife, Caitlin, and 3-year-old son, Colton, who helped his dad put the police badge on Kato’s collar. Corzine thanked his wife for her support while he and Kato went through six weeks of training that concluded at the end of April.

Eight-month-old Kato will join fellow K-9 officer Axel, who is 8 years old. Both are German shepherds.

Tallmadge Police Chief Ronald Williams said Kato was brought in so that a dog would be available for each of the department’s two different night shift teams. Williams said Corzine and Kato are now on the job working together.

“We expect positive results [from Kato] both working as a patrol dog and within the community,” said Williams. “Officer Corzine is a good, hard-working officer. We’ve selected a good dog and sent them to quality training.”

Corzine said he and Kato started working together on May 1. So far, Kato has performed sniffs on vehicles to see if they contain drugs and those actions have led to a few arrests, according to Corzine.

Kato is also trained in tracking methods where he can search in both buildings and in larger areas to find people.

If officers are trying to find someone in a building, Corzine said, “I give him a command, tell him to go, and he'll search the building, find somebody and start barking.”

Kato would go through a similar process when he's trying to locate someone in a larger area outdoors.

“He's doing really well out on the road,” said Corzine. “For as young as he is, it's just amazing the change [he's made] just over that six weeks [of training] from where he was at, to now.”

The duo spent six weeks training 12-14 hours a day in Wapakoneta to earn the state certification.

“We would go from about 5 in the morning to about 5 at night,” said Corzine. Following a break for dinner, Corzine said they would be “back out there training until it was dark.”

Corzine said there were six other officers with K-9s in his class. Another member of the group was being trained on how to be a K-9 instructor.

Council approved items recognizing people, groups that support K-9 program

Council also approved three pieces of legislation recognizing individuals or organizations that support the K-9 program. Council passed a resolution expressing appreciation to Rubber City Kennel Club for making monetary donations and donating a GoPro camera and harness for Axel.

A second resolution was approved expressing appreciation to veterinarian Michael Andrews of the Tallmadge Animal Hospital for providing voluntary care for Axel during the past seven years and for agreeing to do the same for Kato. The third resolution adopted expressed appreciation to Pet Supplies Plus at 2789 Market St. in Fairlawn for providing toys, leashes and leads for Axel and for agreeing to donate two bags of food to both Axel and Kato.

“Thank you, on behalf of Tallmadge City Council, for your donations to the the program,” said Council President Carol Kilway (Ward 4).

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.