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County police agencies get leg up with canine cops

The Daily Mining Gazette, Houghton
April 16, 2001

HOUGHTON, Mich. (AP) -- Sometimes the finest police work is conducted by a partner on four legs.

Two area police agencies routinely call on dogs to walk the thin blue line. The Houghton City Police Department uses Quade, a 6-year-old German Shepherd for anything ranging from drug detection to search and rescue. The Houghton County Sheriff Department is helped in drug searches by Packer, a 3-year-old black Labrador.

With recent threats of violence at Houghton High School, Quade and his partner, Jimmy Destrampe, have been unusually busy. The pair had been spending full days Destrampe in plain clothes at the school, then suiting up for regular night patrols.

Quade lived last week among the chaos of bells and crowds, absorbing the adoration bestowed on the acknowledged superstar of Houghton's crime-fighting team.

"It was fun to have the dog at the school," said HHS senior Valerie Snyder.

Actually, Quade visits schools regularly, working with Destrampe to increase trust for police among students.

"He's good with kids, a good face to the department," Destrampe said. "At one kindergarten class, I sat on a little chair and all the kids were crowding around. He crawled right up in my lap he didn't know what to do but he knew he couldn't hurt them."

While the 95-pound shepherd may be a gentle giant in the classroom, Houghton Chief of Police Ralph Raffaelli said Quade is second to none in crime-stopping.

The dog can help search for lost people, sniff out several varieties of narcotics on command, and provide help in emergencies, Raffaelli said.

"If Jim were under fire or in a situation where someone was trying to harm him, the dog would protect him," Raffaelli said. "I'm sure of it."

Quade recently proved his valor during a Feb. 28 breaking and entering at the Apothecary of Houghton in the Michigan Tech University SDC. The dog, Destrampe, and officer Craig Bastion responded to a burglar alarm in time to discover the alleged perpetrator still in the pharmacy. The man attempted to flee on foot, but Quade was quicker.

"Quade caught up and jumped him," Destrampe said. "Officer Bastion pinned him to the wall, and I held him at gunpoint.

"Basically, he recognized the aggression," Destrampe said. "If I need him, he'll be there."

Quade has been Destrampe's partner, and a member of the family, for most of his life. He was purchased by the city for about $5,000 from a breeder at a young age, and the partners underwent $10,000 worth of intensive training together. Now, they're almost inseparable.

"He lives at home," Destrampe said. "He used to get to sleep with me, but then I got married; now he's demoted to the floor. I wake up in the middle of the night and he's staring. He's always worried about me."

Quade gets nervous if Destrampe leaves him home alone, so they go to the gym together on off days. When Destrampe eventually needs a little personal time, Quade sometimes rides along on other officers' patrols, or hangs out at the police station, popping his head over the counter to greet surprised ticket payers.

"Otherwise, everywhere I go he's on my heels," Destrampe said, laughing.

The relationship between sheriff's Deputy Dan Judnich and Packer, a male black Lab, is a little more professional. Packer is used to sniff for drugs during traffic stops, for search warrants and other searches.

Packer's living arrangements are different from Quade's. A Calumet family owns Packer and keeps him at their farm as a pet; they let the sheriff's department use him for police work when the need arises.

"It's been a super relationship," Judnich said. "You can't meet nicer people. They've been extra nice to us and really helped out the department."

Like any good partner, Judnich picks up Packer when it's time to work and returns him when the shift is over. He said drug searches are like a game for the dog.

"It's amazing to see the difference in his attitude when he knows he's supposed to be working," Judnich said. "He's just a totally different dog. One minute, he could be laying around, not doing anything. When you tell him it's time to find some drugs, he's bright-eyed and bushy tailed he just wants to work."

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Material from The Daily Mining Gazette © 2001-2004, Ogden News Publishing of Mich.