Cleveland Metroparks Rangers Division founded its K-9 unit in 2002 when Ranger Sean Flanigan became its first K-9 handler with his partner, Radar (retired). Ranger Robert Pofok followed Flanigan as the second K-9 handler with his partner, Rocky (retired).
Now a Captain in the division, Flanigan heads up the Ranger’s K-9 unit which currently includes Sgt. Tim Garris and K-9 Logan, Ranger Will Collins and K-9 Chase, Ranger Trevor Poole and K-9 Tyson, and Ranger Chelsea McLellan and her K-9 Creed.
All of the Rangers’ dogs have been provided free of charge by Tom and Kathy Schmidt, owners of Schmidt’s of Macedonia and coordinators of the Buckeye Area Regional K-9 (BARK). The K-9s, all German shepherds, come from a bloodline that has worked well for the Rangers according to Schmidt. Radar (EOW-2/16/15) and Rocky (EOW-9/30/16) are half-brothers from the same father. Logan, who is 5, is Radar’s son and Rocky is his uncle. Radar’s legacy continues with his grandsons Chase (now 2), and Creed (3 months).
The K-9 unit patrols the entire Park District and specializes in locating missing people, apprehending fleeing suspects and detecting illegal drugs. In 2016 Ranger Poole and K-9 Tyson became the department’s first ever explosive detection team for the K-9 Unit. Members of the unit continuously update their skills through weekly training exercises, statewide instruction and national training conferences. The award-winning unit has an outstanding reputation and neighboring police departments regularly request their assistance, including the U.S. Border Patrol and Drug Enforcement Administration. The K-9 unit also draws upon its unique public appeal to promote safety and crime prevention at Cleveland Metroparks events and community outreach opportunities.
Radar retired in October 2012 after a very distinguished career. He was credited with seizing nearly $2 million in drugs and cash, and was presented with a certificate of commendation from U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown upon his retirement. Rocky retired in 2014 and was credited with multiple letters of commendation and appreciation.
Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department’s K9 Chase received a gift of body armor, and now K9 Tyson is receiving that same protection.
The Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department's K9 Chase received a bullet and stab protective vest, and K9 Tyson is receiving the same protection thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. Both vests are sponsored by Consultative Insurance Group of Middleburg Heights, OH and Olmstead Falls, OH, respectively. Both vests are embroidered with the sentiment: "Protection provided by Consultative Insurance".
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 2,700 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over 2.3 million dollars.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950.00. Each vest has a value between $1,744 – $2,283 and a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508.824.6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.
Meet the K-9 Unit
Creed, a 3 month old German Shepard, is the newest addition to the Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department’s K-9 Unit. Creed was sworn in by the Board of Park Commissioners’ in December 2016. He was donated by Tom and Kathy Schmidt of Schmidt’s of Macedonia. Creed will serve as a dual-purpose patrol and narcotics detection dog. Creed’s handler is Ranger Chelsea McLellan, who has been with the Ranger Department for four years. Ranger McLellan has an Associate’s Degree in Wildlife Management from Hocking College and also completed her basic police academy at Hocking.
Left to right: Bruce G. Rinker, Vice President; Dan T. Moore, Vice President;
Ranger Chelsea McLellan with K-9 Creed; and Debra K. Berry, President.
Tyson joined the department in January 2016 at the age of 11 weeks old. Tyson does double duty as a patrol and explosives K-9 officer, and is the department’s first ever explosive detection canine. The addition of Tyson allows for proactive protection measures at Cleveland Metroparks busiest park activities. Explosive detection canines have become a common sight at large sporting events, concerts, popular area destinations and at other large-scale events.
Explosive detection canines are becoming part of a new direction in law enforcement. Five Ohio universities recently received explosive detection dogs as officials expand a state program that makes more of those canines available for safety needs on and off campuses.
Ranger Trevor Poole has been with the Ranger Department since 2014. He is a 2007 graduate of Youngstown State University, where he also completed his basic Police Academy Training, as an Ohio Certified Peace Officer.
Chase was sworn in on January 28 2015 during the Board of Park Commissioners meeting and then introduced to media and a group of excited fifth graders from Valley View Elementary School in Cleveland during a program at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Chase, who was born on November 2, 2014, and is a dual purpose K-9 certified in patrol and narcotics. Currently, Chase is also undergoing training in cadaver detection and has already started his training. Ranger dogs begin with narcotics detection training, before moving on to more advanced detection training such as cadaver work.
Ranger Will Collins and K-9 Chase have recovered several large seizures of narcotics and money in their short career. They both enjoy interacting with the public and working hard to make the Cleveland Metroparks safe.
Being a Cleveland Metroparks Ranger K-9 is in Logan’s blood as he comes from a long line of Ranger K-9s. His father is our very own Radar, and his uncle is our beloved Rocky. Logan is 3 years old and has two certifications: all purpose and patrol. His handler is Sergeant Tim Garris.
From the very beginning, Logan showed strong instincts. On his first track Logan found a burglar approximately one mile from his car near Judges Lake. Logan is also credited with Cuyahoga County’s largest crack cocaine bust during a traffic stop. Logan has assisted in numerous successful tracks resulting in arrests and locating lost juveniles. He also helps local law enforcement agencies when needed and continues to excel in his day to day patrol.
Logan and Sgt. Garris have earned several honors and awards including the Spot Award for Track and Find, Felony Award from Cleveland Metroparks Rangers, OVI Top Cop Award and MADD Top Cop.
Rocky was born March 25, 2005 and retired in Fall 2014 after 9 1/2 years of service. He had worked as a Ranger K-9 officer since he was a puppy. During his time on duty, Rocky held state certifications in specialties including narcotics, tracking and article/evidence search; and patrol including handler protection, criminal apprehension, obedience, building search and open area searches. He also held a national certification from North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA).
Rocky received the 2006 German Shepherd Dog Club of Northern Ohio Award for tracking during a bank robbery case; he located the weapon, recovered the cash and apprehended the suspect all in the same day.
Radar retired in October 2012 after 10 1/2 years of service with his handler, then Lieutenant Sean Flanigan. During his illustrious career Radar was the recipient of a silver medal in the Ohio Police and Fire Olympics. The German Shepherd Dog Club of Northern Ohio recognized him on five occasions for apprehension and tracking narcotics.
Lt. Flanigan stated there were many memorable events including large cash and drug seizures, but what he remembers most is how much kids loved to see Radar do his favorite trick, open his own car door. Lt. Flanigan said, "Working with Radar was the greatest thing I have done in my police career."
In Radar's 10-½ years of service, he earned multiple awards excelling in tracking, narcotics detection and pursuit/apprehension. He also worked closely with specialized drug task force units, and had a number of notable recognitions.