Officer Reese answers questions as Shep triumphantly Shep carries his toy after locating a hidden drug sample.

By Anne Eickstadt


Two years ago the BPD acquired two new K-9s, Shep and Frank Sinatra, who are utility dogs trained to detect cocaine and heroin. They also track fleeing suspects, lost children and wandering people with special needs. Officer Zach Reese brought K-9 Shep to the Citizen’s Police Academy to discuss the K-9 Unit.

Shep is a 3-year-old Belarus Shepherd. He was purchased “green” to not only keep the purchase price lower, but so Reese could train with him and strengthen the team’s bond. Shep has been trained to track people, find missing articles and do drug searches.

“Most of the dogs in America are here to be pets, or do shows and be pretty. We import our K-9s because these dogs are all about work. In Europe, they do the testing and training to keep that working drive hardwired into the dog.

“I got a good dog. He socializes with my family and everyone in the neighborhood. He plays well with my other dog and they get along great. He likes curling up with my nine-month-old.

“Four weeks ago Shep had ACL surgery and this is the first time he has come to work with me since then. He is really excited and ready to work. The surgeon, however, said he has to rest for eight weeks and then he will have to pass a test to make sure he is ready to come back to work with me. He is going to be so pissed tomorrow when I leave without him.”

Reese kept his presentation short in acknowledgement of Shep’s recuperative status and answered questions from the class.

“Shep does not respond to commands in English. That is to prevent a suspect from trying to control him. If a suspect puts hands on me, Shep is trained to immediately engage to protect me. He learns the scent of everyone in the department so he will not pick up their scent on a search. He is trained to locate heroin, cocaine, and meth. He does not respond to cannabis.

“A bad ‘dummy’ can ruin a dog so we have an officer who has had special training to wear the pads and be a ‘dummy’ for the dog to train with and attack. I do not reward him with treats so suspects do not have a chance to poison him. He is rewarded with his toy, which I always keep with me. If I hand his leash to someone else, he will cry and then pull them to follow me. When we go on vacation, he comes with us. When he retires, he will continue to live with me. We try never to separate a dog and his handler.”

Reese then took Shep away and, after a short break, Officer Joe Danielak gave a presentation on DUI Enforcement.

Danielak has been with the Belvidere Police Dept. for three years and went through the Belvidere Police Explorer program before that. He now works on the day shift and is an advisor in the Explorer program as well.

“According to 2017 statistics, every day 28 people in the United States die in alcohol related vehicle crashes. Drunk driving crashes claim more than 13,000 lives each year. DUI caused deaths and damages, including property damage, hospital expenses, and funerals, contribute to a cost of over $44 billion per year.

“Of the 1132 traffic deaths among children aged 14 or younger, 209, or 16 percent, involve an alcohol impaired driver.

“The best chance of reducing these DUI numbers is education.” Officer Joe said. Some of the best groups out there are:

• MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving

• SADD – Students Against Destructive Decisions

• TADD – Teens Against Drunk Driving

• AAIM – Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists

• IDDPA – International Drunk Driving Prevention Association

“Three things the Belvidere Police Department stresses every year to keep the community safe are education, drug enforcement, and gang intervention.

“Law enforcement’s ultimate goal is to increase DUI deterrents and decrease alcohol-related crashes, injuries, and deaths. Belvidere has a reputation for stopping cars for any reason from aberrant behavior to seat belt violations to burnt-out license plate lights. We want to deter DUIs and keep the community safe.”

Field sobriety tests are a battery of tests used by police officers to determine if a person suspected of impaired driving is intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began research in 1975 on how to test suspects for impaired driving. The NHTSA developed a series of tests that police officers could use when evaluating suspected impaired drivers By 1981, officers in the United States began using the organization’s battery of standardized sobriety tests to help make decisions about whether to arrest suspected impaired drivers. The tests were designed to indicate intoxication associated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 percent. After some US states began lowering their BAC limits to 0.08 percent, a study was done to see if the battery could be used to detect BACs at or above 0.08 percent and above and below 0.04 percent. This was done to deal with the changes in the laws that led to lower legal BAC [Blood Alcohol Content] limits across the US.”

In 1995, scientists in San Diego, Calif., contacted police across the country to find out how they determined if a driver was alcohol impaired. They came up with three phases of DUI detection in the form of the Field Sobriety Tests, which are now universally used by law enforcement officers. The tests were refined in Colorado in 1996 and again in Florida in 1998.

“When I am on patrol and come across a possible DUI, I have to rely on my senses and experience to observe the totality of the circumstances.

“1.) Observation of the vehicle in motion. Is there a moving violation, equipment violations, other violations, unusual operation, or anything else that alerts me? Then I have a decision to make: Do I stop the vehicle? I also observe their stopping sequence: Do they stop immediately or take a while? Was there an abrupt weave or attempt to flee? Do they stop in the street, by the curb, over the curb, or in someone’s backyard?

“2.) Personal contact. Interview and observation of the driver–what do I see? What do I hear? What do I smell? Then I have a decision to make: Should I have the driver exit. Then I observe the exit: Do they have trouble standing up? Do they grab for support? Did they just light a cigarette or douse themselves in perfume to mask the odor of alcohol? Are their clothes soiled? Do they have slurred speech?

“3.) Pre-arrest screening: Then comes the three phase Standardized Field Sobriety Testing which are recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These include Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus–involuntary jerkiness in the eyes; the Walk and Turn, and a One Leg Stand.”

The first test that is typically administered is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. During this test, the officer looks for involuntary jerking of the suspect’s eyes as they gaze toward the side. The officer checks for three clues in each eye, which gives six clues for this test. The clues are: lack of smooth pursuit of the eyes, distinct and sustained nystagmus at the eyes’ maximum deviation and nystagmus starting before the eyes reach 45 degrees.

“The eyes don’t lie. You can’t fake it.”

Vertical nystagmus is also checked for further impairments.

The second test that is administered is the Walk and Turn Test, or WAT Test. This test is a measures the suspect’s ability to maintain their balance, walk in a straight line, and follow directions. To perform the test, the suspect will take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line during which time they must keep their arms to their side and count each step out loud. “I always demonstrate.”

While the suspect performs this test, the officer is attempting to observe if the suspect fails to follow instructions; is having difficulty keeping their balance; stops walking in order to regain their balance; takes an incorrect number of steps; or fails to walk the line heel-to-toe.

“This test requires them to divide their attention. They need to remember their instructions, maintain their balance, and follow the instructions. If they are impaired, they will have difficulty dividing their attention. Driving requires all of us to divide our attention as we watch the road in front, check the road behind, check our side view mirrors, and stay in our lane while the vehicle is moving. If a driver cannot divide their attention there are predictable effects on driving ability.”

“The third field test is the One Leg Stand (OLS),” Officer Joe said. “The OLS test requires the suspect to stand on one leg for 30 seconds and also measures balance, coordination, and, similar to the WAT test, divides the suspect’s attention. The officer is looking for any of the four possible clues: Sways while balancing, uses arms for balance, hopping, and puts their foot down.

“I demonstrate with one foot six inches above the ground while I give the instructions,” Danielak said. “If they claim the ground was uneven, I can tell them that I held my foot off the ground for at least 45 seconds while I talked to them.

“When their defense attorney starts asking questions and tries to discount my testimony, I can point to the totality of the circumstances–it wasn’t any one thing that caused me to make the arrest, it was many things that, added together, led me to the conclusion that they were impaired and should not be driving a vehicle.

“The tests are standardized. We always give the same instructions and look for the same clues, which lead us to the same conclusions.

“We can also include non-standardized tests. We can ask them to recite the alphabet from, for example, D to R or count. We can ask them to close their eyes and touch their nose with the end of their finger or something else. These tests don’t add or detract points but they do add evidence for the video.”

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