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CROWN POINT — K-9 Radar will be trading tracking down the bad guys for little hugs and scholastic lectures. The soon-to-be-retired dog will be transitioning from the Crown Point Police Department’s patrol unit to the D.A.R.E. program, alongside his partner and handler Corp. Stanko Gligic.

The gray-haired 9-year-old German shepherd will officially retire in July. Radar will be taking it easy after developing hip dysplasia, Gligic said.

“He’s been the best partner I could ever have and he’s also my best friend,” said Gligic, who has been fighting crime on the department with K-9 Radar for the past seven years.

“Radar’s with me 24/7. At home everywhere I go, every room I am in, he’s in. Every time I come on station, he comes with me to work or just say ‘Hello’ to everybody. I feel blessed that I get to retire him relatively healthy. He’s really had a nice career. It just goes by too fast.”

Radar is currently one of three dogs part of the department’s K-9 Division. He’s a dual-purpose police K-9, specialized in narcotics and handler protection and apprehension. He is certified through the American Police Canine Association (APCA) in narcotics, building and article searches, tracking and obedience.

“Our K-9s play a vital role in many aspects. The amount of narcotics Radar has taken off the road is immeasurable,” Gligic said, recalling two instances when his partner personally saved his life during criminal apprehensions of subjects that were under the influences of narcotics.

“He’s been punched and kicked by real bad guys. In one (instance), Radar was punched on top of the head and the other (instance) while making an apprehension, he was kicked over and over causing him to limp when the situation was over. Radar, however, never let go and stayed in the fight until the suspect was taken into custody.”

Whenever he’s requested to a scene or as back-up for another officer, Radar is always ready to go, Gligic said.

Police duo recognized by APCA

Radar has had many narcotics finds that led to arrests and criminal apprehensions over the years, Gligic said, but the “by far largest call and arrest” of his career happened in sub-zero weather, two years ago.

On Dec. 26, 2017, Radar and Gligic were called to assist Merrillville Police in reference to tracking a suspect that had shot two people inside of a Merrillville home. When the police duo arrived to the scene, Gligic said he was advised that one of the two people had died as a result of the shooting and the other had been transported to the hospital.

Gligic acted quickly, grabbing a scent article of the shooting suspect for Radar to sniff. The K-9 tracked for roughly a mile through yards, over fences and different streets in snow until he found footprints leading to a utility shed.

Not knowing if the suspect was still armed, Gligic gave commands to the suspect to throw his weapon out and come out of the shed, but the suspect refused. Radar was then sent into the structure, where he grabbed Robert Stewart, of Merrillville, and drag him out for officers to take him into custody without any officers getting hurt.

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Stewart was charged with two counts of murder — along with enhancements for using a gun during the crime — in the shooting deaths of Ryan Halbe, 27, and his mother, Candy Halbe, 55, in the 2400 block of West 61st Place, Lake Criminal Court records show.

Not only were Radar and Gligic named Employees of the Month by Crown Point Mayor David Uran for their heroic actions, the two were also awarded the Uncommon Valor Award by the APCA last year.

The award is the most prestigious honor granted by APCA, according to the association. It is presented to officers who “displayed actions of uncommon valor during the performance of their official law enforcement duties, which subjected the nominee(s) to imminent death and or serious injury, which led to the termination of the incident and or displayed the same to save others from death or severe injury.”

“Being recognized by my peers and the APCA is the highest honor that I could have received. This award will always mean something to me because Radar and I achieved it together,” Gligic said.

Taking over DARE

“I’m sad to leave the road with him, but it’ll be exciting for Radar to visit schools,” said Gligic, who will soon be taking over as Crown Point Police’s new DARE coordinator. Gligic is replacing Sgt. Dave Benson, who is running in the general election to be the city’s next clerk-treasurer.

After holding the DARE role for the past 12 years, Benson said he believes Gligic and Radar are a perfect fit for the program.

“I am excited to pass the torch to them,” Benson said. “Stanko is a gentleman and perfect example of the golden rule. With all his years as a street veteran police officer, he brings experience and can share real life stories that our DARE students can learn from.

“The K-9s are always the big stars that steal the show. Radar will be a wonderful mascot for the program and a real treat for the kids to have during class time.”

Even though Gligic and Radar have already started training and shadowing Benson in the classroom, the two won’t officially begin their duties in the DARE program until school starts in the fall.

For now, the police department is looking a new K-9 officer to fill in for Gligic on patrol. The K-9 Division will also be hosting fundraising events over the next few months to help purchase a new dog to replace Radar as he transitions into retirement.

Those interested in applying can contact the Crown Point Police Department at 219-663-2131 or Gligic at sgligic@crownpoint.in.gov.

“It’s been a blessing of my career to work with Radar – it’s definitely has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s an honor to be a part of the K-9 Unit too, you know, because we are all one big family,” Gligic said. “I can’t imaging working without them and Radar. Him and I, we’re excited for this new challenge."

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Allie covers South Lake County municipal government, development and breaking news for The Times. She comes to the Region from Lebanon, Indiana. She is a proud Ball State University graduate.