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A police officer who doubles as an Army captain and a dog from the Czech Republic are likely to team up as the latest K-9 Unit at the Collierville Police Department.
Officer Matthew Bialy is the department’s new canine handler.
A dog named Leno, like the television talk show host, is auditioning to become the officer’s four-legged partner.
Bialy, 36, is an imposing 6-foot-2. Leno is less so at 58 tan-and-black pounds.
As a Belgian Malinois, the dog is a popular breed with police and the military, said Lt. Jeff Dwyer, who oversees the unit.
“They are agile, not as big as a German shepherd, but they have an intense drive… a lot of focus and are very trainable dogs,” Dwyer said.
Bialy, a native of New Jersey who once ran a medical supply company, said he’s been in the Army about 15 years. He is currently assigned to the Arkansas National Guard.
He joined the Collierville police force in 2005, after returning from a combat tour as a lieutenant and infantry platoon leader in Iraq.
Collierville was home to his wife’s parents. He and Kristin have a 19-month-old son.
In 2008, he returned to a less violent Iraq for a tour as a captain and company commander.
“The second time was a lot better than the first,” he said.
Since childhood, Bialy said he’s had two Bullmastiffs, a black Labrador and currently a German shepherd named Taz.
“I’ve always grown up with dogs,” he said, and wanted the opportunity to team up with one on the job.
Born and raised most of his 18 months in Europe, Leno stood out among eight dogs put through their paces at Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind., Dwyer and Bialy said. The dog cost $7,000.
A final hurdle for Leno before he nails the job will be getting a clean bill of health from a specialist veterinarian.
Bialy boards the police dog at his home. He and his canine partner will head for additional training at the Southaven Police Department.
Narcotics detection will be their main focus, Bialy said.
Collierville has been without a K-9 Unit since September 2008, when the previous canine handler, Robin Snyder, resigned. The police dog Yahn had reached retirement age and left with Snyder.
BY Kevin McKenzie