by Wendy Turrell
The Richfield Police Department’s newest member was born in Holland and began his new duties the first week in October at the tender age of two years. Nori is a Dutch Shephard and Officer Jake Totten’s new canine partner.
Nori is the first police dog Richfield has had in almost a decade. Totten said that he is dually trained to detect narcotics and to be a “bite dog,” one that will chase down and apprehend suspects on command. He has also had tracking and obedience training.
Richfield Police Chief Mike Swanson explained that some of the duties Officer Totten and Nori may handle together include building searches, crowd control, evidence and narcotics searches, tracking suspects, and helping to find lost persons. Swanson said Nori may also be used outside Richfield’s borders “to offer mutual aid to other agencies, as if Nori were a regular police officer.”
He concluded, “It has been many years since we’ve had a K9, so we are all looking forward to Nori becoming a member of our department.”
Totten grew up around his mother’s dog-training business. “Dogs have always been a big part of my life,” he said. “When I came to the Richfield Police Department in 2019, I knew we hadn’t had a K9 team for quite some time. … I thought this could be an opportunity to not only help our community, but also grow the reach of our department and my personal development.”
He began doing extensive research into the three breeds used for police work – Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, and Dutch Shepherds. “I liked the Dutch Shepherd because they are somewhere in between the other two in drive, loyalty, social ability and activity level,” Totten said.
Nori traveled a long road to Richfield. His breeder in Holland selected him from his litter based on specific traits he judged would make him an excellent police dog. In November 2022, he was shipped to the U.S. and sent to Tri State K9, a business that specializes in training police dogs, in Warren, Ohio, to begin his training in narcotics detection, tracking and criminal apprehension.
In February 2023, Totten went to Tri State to observe the training and choose a dog. Totten said he and Nori had an immediate bond. “When we met,” he recalled, “he immediately jumped into my arms, and I knew Richfield was going to be his new home.”
Nori and Totten trained together with Tri State owner and trainer Dave Blosser for 200 hours, then they took a test to be certified by the state as a canine patrol team. But that is not the end of training for either Officer Totten or his dog:
“Just because our training program has come to a close does not mean training has ended. Nori and I will complete required, continued training each month, along with the extra work I will be doing with him daily. We will also have to get re-certified through the State of Ohio each year, which determines if he can work on the road.”
Totten said Nori may visit area schools, but because of his specialized training, he cannot be handled by the children. Instead, he will do demonstrations of his police dog skills, and kids can ask questions. When needed, Nori may also go to schools to search for narcotics on the grounds.
Nori is fulfilling an important role for the Richfield Police Department. “Our department has been in various dangerous situations that put our officers and others’ lives at risk. Nori will not only give us the ability to protect and serve better, but he’s also protecting us police officers,” Totten explained.
When Nori is not on patrol in the car, he lives with Officer Totten, his wife, Whitney, and their Swiss mountain dog. Totten says that Nori takes on a much more “chill” personality at home. His wife can handle him, and he gets along well with his canine companion.
“Nori seems to know whether he is on or off-duty,” Totten said. As soon as Totten puts his working vest on, Nori becomes “all business.”
Village Finance Director Sandy Turk said the total cost for the dog and the 200 hours of training was $15,000. The village received grants and donations of more than $22,000 to help cover the cost of the dog, his food, vet bills, accommodations and supplies. In addition, $11,000 from the opioid settlement has been earmarked for the canine program. The money will go in an account specifically for the K9 expenses. ∞
Officer Jake Totten is ready to go on patrol with Nori in a patrol car specifically outfitted to carry a K9 dog. Photo by W. Turrell.
On our cover (photo): Nori, Richfield’s new k9 Officer, has completed 200 hours of training with Officer Jake Totten. The village outfitted a police cruiser for him and he is ready to serve. Photo by W. Turell.