The Fredericktown Police Department would like to introduce the community to its newest officer, “Balt” and his handler, Fredericktown native, Officer Zach Boyer.
“Balt” is a, one-and-a-half-year-old, Belgian Malinois trained in narcotics detection, apprehension and tracking.
Boyer’s journey as a K9 handler may have just begun, but he already has seven years of law enforcement experience.
Boyer attended the Mineral Area Law Enforcement Academy, but it was not until a couple years ago, when he had the opportunity to work with a K9 handler, where he realized working with the dogs was such an amazing experience.
It was during this time, Boyer said, he realized the incredible potential of working with police service dogs, igniting his passion for becoming a K9 handler.
“I was able to see how the dogs tracked and detected for narcotics and it was very interesting to me,” Boyer said. “So far, my favorite experience has been finding narcotics and taking them away from dealers and users. It’s no secret that drugs are a growing problem, and I’m proud that I can be a part of getting some of it off the streets.”
The need for a K9 trained in narcotics detection became more urgent with the legalization of marijuana in the state of Missouri. Other dogs within the department were trained to only detect the now legal substance.
Police Chief Eric Hovis said he saw this need coming up and began raising funds to purchase a new K9 as well as send an officer for the necessary training.
The acquisition of “Balt” was made possible through the generous contributions of the community. The department initiated a fundraising campaign, raising $10,000. Additionally, Dave Mungenast, a supporter of law enforcement initiatives, matched the raised amount, bringing the total to $20,000. In recognition of his support, Mungenast will be honored with a plaque commending his generosity.
“I would like to thank the community, especially Dave Mungenast, for the generosity and support of our K9 program,” Hovis said. “We raised the money quickly and were able to fill this need. Being able to remove narcotics from our streets is a top priority of the department and ‘Balt’ is going to help us accomplish that.”
Boyer said, “Balt” has had an easy time adjusting to his new home, both on the department and as part of the Boyer family.
“Balt” is described as outgoing, excited around a lot of people, and overall a very happy boy. Though he has had limited interaction with Officer Boyer’s family, Boyer said, the bond between them has already formed.
“My family and I have already decided that we love him,” Boyer said.
Currently, “Balt” is the sole K9 in the department, but plans are underway to introduce another dog once another officer completes K9 training.
Officer Boyer acknowledges the vital role that K9s play in law enforcement. He said, police service dogs possess unique abilities that officers alone do not, including their heightened sense of smell, ability to detect the odor of narcotics and locate items or individuals through tracking human scent.
“K9s in our community are important because there are so many instances they can be used,” Boyer said. “I’ve personally had several instances myself where I thought having a K9 would have helped out, from finding a runaway or lost people to locating narcotics.”
Since joining the force, “Balt” has been involved in several successful drug apprehensions. The K9’s ability to locate narcotics has aided officers in their fight against drugs. During their first shift together and first traffic stop, “Balt” and Boyer were able to locate approximately 20.3 grams of methamphetamine resulting in a felony arrest for possession of a controlled substance.
“I do think that ‘Balt’ will make a difference and believe he already is,” Boyer said. “Any amount of narcotics we can get off the streets is a win.”
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at email@example.com