Hobart police dog recognized for service
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent November 10, 2012 11:38PM
Hobart police dog Rommel leads Hobart officer Simon Gresser around a car looking for illegal substances during a training exercise in 2007. After working side by side with Gresser for more than 11 years the K-9 officer has retired and is living with his handler and his family. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:34AM
HOBART — Rommel hungrily chewed on a tennis ball while visiting a Board of Public Works meeting last week, oblivious to the accolades bestowed upon him or the concern for his welfare.
After more than 11 years of service to the Hobart Police Department, the K-9 officer has retired, having suffered a stroke while on duty that robbed him of the physical abilities needed to remain on the force.
The board recognized Rommel, who could still walk but was obviously slowed down, as well as the department’s newest K-9, Scout, a black German shepherd that came from Germany, during their regular meeting.
“This dog has been incredible during his 11 years. He’s been involved in every case here,” Cpl. A. Simon Gresser, who leads the department’s K-9 division and was Rommel’s handler, said.
Gresser said during his tenure on the force, Rommel, a German shepherd, won numerous awards including National Detection Champion in 2009 and 2010 and runner-up in 2011. He said the K-9 officer has traveled through a number of states, assisted in drug arrests, a bank robbery and homicide and did detail at the Miss America pageant when it was held in Northwest Indiana.
“They tell you a dog is a man’s best friend. He bit some people in our career, not a lot, and he came forward to protect me when I needed it,” Gresser said.
On the positive side, Rommel has now moved from staying outside in a kennel at the Gresser home to inside, where he’ll live out his retirement just being a family pet.
Gresser also showed off Scout, a 20-month-old German shepherd that he flew out to Germany to get. He said the dog cost $7,800.
The Board of Public Works also cited Gresser himself and fellow police officer, Scott Shaginaw, for saving a family dog from a house fire.
Fire Chief Brian Taylor said the two officers were the first to respond to a structural fire.
“They encountered the family dog and saved it. There is no doubt it would have perished if not for the selfless efforts of these officers,” Taylor said.