Greenfield - A member of the Greenfield Police Department with more than a thousand deployments and 56 arrests to his credit has retired after eight years on the force.
His replacement will have big paws to fill.
Badger, a 9-year-old canine cop, will be missed by both police and the public, particularly school children, who got to meet the police dog on many more social occasions during his career.
But it's his impressive police work that people should take note of, said Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt.
Badger's numerous deployments included at least 20 to SWAT situations. His largest narcotics find was a kilo of cocaine wrapped in axle grease hidden in the third row seat of a large SUV, Wentlandt said.
The two-time recipient of state awards also played a role in the seizure of more than $20,000 in cash, Wentlandt said.
He also assisted in burglaries. One suspect who thought he could hide from police found that he couldn't hide from Badger, a Belgian Malinois/Dutch shepherd mix, who tracked the suspect more than half a mile before finding him in his hiding place, Wentlandt said.
To the rescue
In addition to his role on the crime team, Badger also saved the day on more than one occasion.
In one instance, he found a loaded gun on a playground in Milwaukee. The gun had been thrown away by a suspect and Badger and his handler helped Milwaukee police find the weapon.
His work helped avert a potential tragedy that could have resulted if a child had found the gun before Badger did, Wentlandt said. The suspect was ultimately brought to justice, he added.
Badger also was instrumental in rescuing a person with significant medical and cognitive issues. He located the person hiding behind a fence.
Badger has been a trusted partner all this time, said handler Sgt. Scott Zienkiewicz.
"These dogs would give their lives without a second thought to protect me," Zienkiewicz said. Thankfully, that kind of situation never arose, he added.
He described Badger as dedicated and a hard worker.
"He would work non-stop until I told him to stop or until he fell over from exhaustion," Zienkiewicz said.
Going to school
One of Badger's favorite duties was visiting schools, Zienkiewicz said.
In fact, just about every schoolchild in the Greenfield and the Whitnall districts knows Badger, Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke once observed.
"He's very, very easy-going around children," Zienkiewicz said of his canine partner.
You can tell he likes children when you see four kids hugging him all at the same time and he's wagging his tail, Zienkiewicz said.
While the little ones got to meet and pet Badger on his school visits, high school students were astonished by his sensitive nose. Badger would sniff out bags that Zienkiewicz had put drugs into to get the scent on them and then emptied and hidden. Badger found the bags under garbage cans, in lockers and in backpacks, he said.
Badger seems to be happy in retirement, said Zienkiewicz, who has welcomed his former partner into his family.
"I think he thinks he's on vacation," Zienkiewicz said.
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