The Ozaukee County Sheriff's Department announced last month that Deputy Becky Swanson will be the new K-9 handler for the department.
A native of Neenah, Swanson graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville in 2008 with a degree in criminal justice. She joined the Ozaukee County Sheriff's Department the following year, serving with the jail and patrol divisions before joining the Ozaukee County SWAT division. Swanson's desire to pursue a career in law enforcement stemmed from a desire to serve the public.
"I knew I didn't want to work a traditional 9 to 5 job, and I wanted to be out in the community helping people," said Swanson. "Working for the sheriff's office allowed me to do both."
Her desire to continue challenging herself to do something different was furthered in recent months when a new K-9 handler position was presented to the department. She was soon matched with her new German Shepherd, which she named Rev.
According to Swanson, getting acclimated with Rev for the job is a process that first began with visiting the Steinig Tal Kennel in Campbellsport, a facility that specializes in K-9 training. Swanson and Rev will soon undergo a month-long program that will teach Rev skills such as basic obedience, drug detection, vehicle searches, tracking lost individuals and using reasonable force.
"In a situation where we are in pursuit of a suspect, using a K-9 can be a useful tool in controlling a situation or, in some cases, helping to apprehend the suspect," said Swanson, who also described techniques such as "bark and hold" or "bite and hold" that a K-9 would use in situations where suspects barricade themselves in buildings.
For now, Swanson is still in the bonding stages with Rev at home with her other two dogs, Abe and Niko.
"I don't have any kids, so this is like raising three sons and making sure they get along," said Swanson. "Abe and Niko were barking like crazy the first time they met Rev at the kennel, but I guess that was to be expected."
Swanson's early experiences as a K-9 handler, combined with her time on the SWAT team and other divisions, have left her feeling a sense of pride and satisfaction from her career.
"I've accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. Working with these special units have allowed me to get different perspectives on law enforcement and develop a real attention to detail."