DE PERE, Wis. - The De Pere Police Department has spent the last several months adjusting to life with their new K9 unit.
After bringing home Kurt in December, the four-legged officer is now a part of the team.
Officer Mrstik spent 7 weeks in New Mexico training to handle the new K9 officer for the De Pere Police Department.
Five months later, the two have developed a sense of trust and understanding.
Their teamwork helps keep everyone in the community safe.
Officer Mrstik and his partner Kurt spend every day together whether they are working or not.
Officer Mrstik said bringing a K9 into his life has helped bring a sense of security he never knew he was missing.
"I'm riding around with backup. I don't know how I did that the last 8 years without one," said Officer Mrstik.
Kurt is a dual purpose K9 capable of tracking suspects and sniffing out narcotics.
"He's very driven. He has a very high intensity for his job," said Jedd Bradley, the resource officer for the De Pere Police Department.
The 2-year-old German Shepherd is obedient and responds to a set of commands in German given by Officer Mrstik.
The two train together at least one hour every day so when a situation does arise, they're ready.
NBC26 went on a ride-along to join in on a training exercise with the duo.
In the exercise they apprehended a mock suspect hiding in an empty building at St. Norbert College.
Seeing Kurt in action brings Officer Mrstik great joy and pride.
"It's putting all of your hard work. It's a lot of your own time being able to see that come full circle and watching Kurt be excited. He's jacked up," said Officer Mrstik.
Another training exercise the two practice often includes setting up a track filled with scents.
Kurt follows the smells and finds his way to the desired find with ease.
Officer Mrstik wants to make sure Kurt is never met with a scenario in the field he's never encountered before.
Officer Mrstik recalled one of their first tracks together as a team.
They were called to Oneida to locate a hiding suspect with outstanding warrants.
"You could see the hair on his back stand up. He stared intently. He let out one bark and he just stood there and stared," said Officer Mrstik.
That's one of more than 40 K9 deployments the pair has done together.
"The amount of joy that brought me was more than anything else in this career," said Officer Mrstik.
Having Kurt by his side brings another level of comfort not only for himself but for other officers as well.
"Kurt's watching, as the officers are, of any threats or dangers so it is reassurance to the officers," said Officer Bradley.
"I know he has my back and I believe that he knows that I have his back," said Officer Mrstik.
The total startup cost of a K9 is almost $20,000.
Officers at the department said the investment is worth every penny for the safety of its officers and the community.
The De Pere Police Department is always looking for funds to help support their K9 unit.
Click here to donate.