Poway now has a K9 unit
By Emily Sorensen
There’s a new crime-fighting duo in town, though you won’t find them answering to Batman and Robin.
Poway finally has a K9 unit again, after 10 years without one. Deputy Bruce Marler and his partner, a 7-and-a-half year-old German Shepherd named Marko, have been working with the Poway Sheriff’s station for three weeks. “It’s something we’ve wanted at the station for a long time,” said Lt. Scott Miller of the Poway Sheriff’s station.
So what exactly does a K9 unit do, and why do we need one in Poway? “It’s many hats,” said Marler of the roles he and Marko fill. In addition to regular patrols and patrol support, Marler and Marko will provide crowd control, give demonstrations, and help with searching and tracking, as well as searching for evidence. “Their search capabilities are far superior to a human’s,” said Marler. “He’s far faster searching than a team of deputies would be.” Marko has been trained to find items as small as a bullet casing or a paper clip. “I don’t want people thinking the dog is just here to bite people,” said Miller, who said Marko had recently been used to track a suspect in 4S Ranch. “Their noses are just incredible.”
Marler and Marko have been partners in the K9 unit in San Diego County for six and a half years. Marler, a combat veteran who spent 12 years in the Army, has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 15 years, spending the last 10 of those in Lakeside and unincorporated El Cajon. “It was always my goal to get into the K9 unit,” said Marler. “It’s something I always wanted to do.”
Being part of the K9 unit isn’t an easy task. Marler spent eight to 12 weeks in an academy put on by the Sheriff’s Department training for the K9 unit, training with tracking dogs at the same time. In addition to his required monthly training as a deputy, Marler and Marko also have to spend an additional mandated minimum of 16 hours a month training as a K9 team.
Like most dogs in K9 units, Marko lives with Marler and his family. “Over the past six and a half years, I’ve literally spent more time with him than my wife,” said Marler. Marko also has an interesting past. Born in Denmark, he worked with the Israeli Defense Force before being sent to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, where he was assigned to Marler. “He’s smart as a whip,” said Marler. “He never ceases to amaze me.”
While you’re sure to see Marler and Marko around town, remember that Marko is working and shouldn’t be approached to be petted like a normal dog. “He will let you know if you get too close to the car,” said Marler. “When he’s at work, it’s work mode.”
More than just his nose, Marler said Marko also serves as a “force multiplier” and a crime deterrent. “Some people do not hesitate to fight with a deputy, but most do not want to fight with a dog,” said Marler. “He keeps [the deputies] safe and the community safe. He’s a great tool.”
Not just a tool, he’s also part of Marler’s family. “We call them tools, but they’re like our children,” said Marler.
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