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Lansing K-9 Rico retires after 5 years of service

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LANSING — After five years of exemplary service for the Lansing Police Department, Rico has called it a career.

The 6-year-old Belgian Malinois — a breed similar in appearance to the German shepherd — was officially retired last month after working with K-9 Officer Keith Haan and is now living the good life after being adopted by Haan and his wife.

Haan and Rico met in January 2017 and had a week together before heading off to the K-9 equivalent of basic training.

"The (dog training) academy that we had was six weeks long, 40-50 hours a week," Haan said.

Being paired with a K-9 was a career objective for Haan, who has been a Lansing officer since March 2015.

Lansing K-9 Rico

Lansing K-9 Rico recently retired after working about five years with Officer Keith Haan.

"When I first started, that was always one of the goals, to do K-9 at some point," Haan said. "It came quicker than I planned on."

Rico came out of training with a wide-ranging skill set.

"He's what we call a dual-purpose dog," Haan said. "He's trained in narcotics, trained in tackling, apprehension, building searches, vehicle searches."

Two of those skills came in handy early in their partnership. Haan had been called to assist an Illinois State Police trooper with a traffic stop. "He wanted us to run the dog around the car," Haan said. "We got 15 pounds of marijuana."

Lansing K-9 Rico

Lansing K-9 Rico has aided the police department in a variety of tasks, including identifying the presence of drugs during a traffic stop.

Spending time together both on and off the job creates an exceptionally close relationship, according to Haan.

"I tell a lot of people I spent more time with him than I did with my wife," Haan said. "You spend your off time with him, you build that bond real quick."

That leads to an exceptional level of trust between handler and K-9.

"If I ever got in trouble, I can pop that door open, and I've got backup right there," Haan said. "He was trained to protect me."

Working with Rico has made Haan a better police officer, Haan believes.

"Oh yeah, for sure," he said. "It really helped with verbal skills" and dealing with the public.

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