STOCKTON — Nolan Weiser describes it as his dream job. He’s passionate about the Rooks County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit and jumped at the chance to potentially receive a grant for future improvements and additional training.
But Weiser and his K-9 deputy, a 6-year-old German Shepherd named Koda, are asking for the public’s help. The recipients of five Aftermath K-9 grants will be decided by popular vote.
Anyone can vote once per day until midnight Tuesday at aftermath.com/k9-grant. There is a drop-down arrow to select Rooks County Sheriff’s Office, or click this link.
The local sheriff’s department has been among the top 30 vote-getters, but only the top five will receive any funding. The first-place prize is $5,000, and the prize amount drops by $1,000 for each subsequent ranking.
Making the top 30 is a feat in itself, as several hundred law enforcement agencies across the nation are vying for the K-9 program funds.
“Everybody would just say they can’t believe how many departments are actually entered,” said Weiser, the sheriff department’s K-9 sergeant. “I feel the community has done really good and been supportive. If we’re doing that good, I feel like that says something, too.”
It was largely a community initiative to establish the K-9 unit and purchase Koda several years ago from a training program in Oklahoma. Several local residents offered financial contributions to help start the program, which has improved the agency’s drug enforcement and prosecution, Weiser said.
“He’s their dog at the end of the day, so I want to do anything I can to give back to the community and use Koda the best I can,” he said. “That’s why people donated the money to it, is they want to see him being used, and they also want to just see him and interact with him more.”
Koda has become a regular fixture on the Rooks County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, with several creative posts encouraging votes for the grant process.
If funding is received, Weiser hopes to purchase a larger holding kennel for his patrol vehicle, which would allow Koda more comfortable quarters during long shifts.
He also hopes to complete additional training with an organization called the Heart of America Police Dog Association, which offers educational resources in Kansas and other Midwest states. The training would further improve Koda’s skills, and that certification is recognized by the federal judicial system, Weiser said.
Weiser is so dedicated to improving his K-9 program that he started traveling to Salina every two weeks on his day off to train with other Kansas K-9 officers. The department recognized the importance of the training and is covering costs, but the grant would help secure future funding, he said.
Weiser knew at a young age he wanted to be a police officer and started with the Hays Police Department soon after turning 21. A native of Rooks County, he transferred back home and had a desire to work with a K-9 unit.
That wish became reality when he was asked to take over the program.
“I do love my job,” Weiser said. “I feel like I have my dream job. I’m just living it right now, and I’m very happy.”