Polk County Deputy Kyle Olson and his K9 Buffy graduated from a three-month training course and received certification to work as a police team on June 25. Buffy and Olson are certified in drug detection, criminal apprehension, and article searches. Their first shift on Polk County Roads was June 29, and within a week, the sheriff’s office has already used Buffy’s assistance on two separate incidents. 

In the first instance, Buffy was used during a search of a vehicle, locating something. The second was to assist in the search for an elderly man with dementia in Winger.  Although Olson and Buffy weren’t the ones who located the man, Deputy Olson explained he thought it was more because of his lack of confidence in being in a new situation. “We were first used on Thursday for a vehicle search, which she found something,” said Olson. “Then down in Winger, we went down to help with an elderly male that wandered away. She did good, but now I don’t have that instructor next to me, so it’s trying to read her and build my confidence up in her. Everything worked out great. I’ll say we didn’t find her, but it’s all on me because of what you’re used to in class to what you’re used to out by yourself. Now I’m learning, and after that, it showed me I could really trust her and just go with her.”

Olson said it’s different working on the road without an instructor supporting him to ensure he’s working with Buffy correctly. “They’re always telling you, you’re good, you’re on it, and now it was all on me,” said Olson. “She did her thing, what it looked like is we were heading the right way and going to find him. I just didn’t trust my dog, and that’s one thing the instructors have pushed on us; is you have to trust them and go.”

Olson said people in the Crookston community would probably notice him out working on obedience and other things with Buffy, and that they’ll talk with anyone who wants to meet Buffy. “When I’m at home, I’ll do a lot more of the obedience stuff,” said Olson. “Last week, some people saw me. I was out at the Crookston High School in their back field and laid a track. When it comes to the confidence stuff when we train, it’s in short grass, and that day was tall grass. I’m used to her head being down, and with the tall grass she obviously can’t, so her head was up a little more. We’ll train as much as we can but don’t want to burn her or me out. You’ll probably see me at the Crookston High School a lot, especially when on day shifts out to do something. Probably obedience or throwing the ball around. Anyone can always come and talk, and we can always talk about Buffy.”

While Olson said he still needs to build his confidence in what the pair can accomplish, he’s seen a significant change in Buffy’s comfort level over their four to five months together. “When we first got her, she was a little hesitant and didn’t quite know who I was,” said Olson. “But now she won’t leave me alone. She’s really good. After training, she listens a lot better and everything. She does good with the family and everything like that, so no complaints there.”

Polk County Sheriff Jim Tadman began planning to restart the Polk County K9 program last fall, which had been dormant since Deputy Dave Emanuel and K9 Neiko retired in 2009. Tadman said he was blown away with how quickly the residents and businesses in Polk County came through to support the program, and the donations of Buffy and the training of her and Deputy Olson donated by McDonough K9 in Anoka. “The residents came through right away,” said Tadman. “It was a lot faster than I thought it would take. I was doing some searching and ended up speaking with Mark McDonough on the cost, a timeline to give him. And then donations came through enough to start the process and the help of his donation getting us out of the gate and into training. It was just great. I was able to go down and watch a day of training with this mix of 18 K9 handlers and their K9s doing article searches, drug finds, and apprehension was just fantastic.”

Tadman, a former K9 handler for the county, said he’s excited to have a K9 back in the department and has hopes to add at least one more dog to the shift opposite of Olson’s. “It has to be just right,” said Tadman. “You have to have the right handler, and I always say it’s another tool. The team – the handler and K9 – are another tool, and we haven’t had one for nine years. I already used them through this past weekend, and it’s nice to be able to help find an elderly person that has dementia and walks away from his house. One find like that pays everything off. We’re going to try to build and have a slow process to hopefully somewhere down the road have a K9 on the other shift. We’ve got some deputies out there that will do a fantastic job. They’d all like to work with a dog, so I’m excited to see what will come down the road.”

Tadman also said the sheriff’s office would be working on holding both the dodgeball fundraiser for the K9 program that was postponed in March due to COVID-19, as well as planning a joint community demonstration with other K9 teams in the region that he’d originally hoped to hold during Night To Unite. “Hopefully, with the K9s with we have, we can maybe get some time down the road to put something together and invite our neighbor K9s from other counties and cities to do a demonstration for the residents,” said Tadman. “We were looking forward to that National Night Out to do a demonstration, but we’ll take it step by step and want to make sure everybody is healthy and stays that way.”

The K9 program is a non-profit separate of the Sheriff’s Office Annual Budget and can be supported by mail sent to:

Polk County Sheriff’s Association
K9 Foundation
600 Bruce Street
Crookston, MN 56716