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Saturday, February 09, 2013 4:00 AM
CRIME FIGHTERS: Indiana State Police Senior Trooper Chris Richey of the ISP District 42 Post in Versailles, works with his new partner Rayner. Rayner is a dual-purpose German shepherd, who was named after Versailles Post Trooper William Rayner who was killed in the line of duty in 1966. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchieemail@example.com)
Officer Rayner of the Indiana State Police has quite a legacy to live up to.
He can hunt down as little as 11 grams of six different illegal drugs. He is trained in tracking, area searches and building searches. He can bring down a suspect, has training in handler protection and he is named after a fallen ISP officer.
Also, he's a dog.
The 20-month-old K-9 officer is a dual-purpose German shepherd who is primarily brought out for narcotics searches.
Rayner's namesake, Trooper William R. Rayner, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1966 during a traffic stop on Interstate 74 in Decatur County.
Rayner was unaware that the car he and his partner had pulled over was stolen. When the officers asked the occupants to exit the vehicle, Rayner was shot and killed.
In 2009, a stretch of I-74 was dedicated as the Trooper William Rayner Memorial Highway. Recently, he and other fallen officers have received a new honor. For several years ISP K-9 handlers have been naming their partners in memory of fallen Indiana troopers.
"A couple (police dog training) classes after me they started the idea of naming dogs after fallen troopers. I thought that was a good idea, I picked Bill because he was in the district," said Trooper Christopher Richey, who is Rayner's partner and handler at ISP District 42 Post in Versailles.
Richey spoke to Rayner's widow, Rheadawn Rayner-Metz, and asked permission to name a police dog after her late husband.
To become a police dog, the animals have to complete more than 400 hours of training. Dennis Wade, one of the state's dog trainers, said it is the equivalent to boot camp for humans, but tailored for dogs.
"Dogs aren't able to train for eight hours consistently," Wade said. "You have to go for 20 minutes and then you need a break. You have good days and bad days. It can get frustrating."
Training covers obedience, aggression control, handler protection, narcotics detection, building searches, area searches, tracking and evidence searches.
Richey, who has been a trooper since 2000 and part of the state's K-9 unit for close to seven years, is working with his second K-9 officer.
"It's like anything else: The longer you spend with them, the more you know how they're going to react," he said. "Say when we were tracking and looking for something, you could tell by the way he would move, or start sniffing. That would be different than when he was closer. With new dogs it takes a little bit to learn their characteristics."
His previous partner, Heiko, retired in August after seven years. Richey said he could tell what Heiko was going to do in a situation before the situation happened because they've trained for it or come up on it before. He doesn't have that kind of familiarity with Rayner yet, but the two are working on it.
Wade said that the connection between the two partners will take time to develop, but that it starts with training.
"The tight bond with the dog is just incredible," he said. "They have to trust each other with the other one's life. It's definitely a partnership."
Richey picked Rayner from a litter of 33 dogs from a training facility in Pennsylvania. Training is different for every dog, but it usually starts when they're between 16 months and two and one-half years old.
"He's young and fast compared to my old dog, who was old and slow like me," Richey said.
Richey said that 70 percent of Rayner's duty is designated for narcotics searches for other officers. Usually the searches take place in vehicles and in houses. Twenty percent is tracking for area searches for suspects and the remaining 10 percent covers additional areas in which he's needed.
"He's an all-around great dog for all aspects of what he does," Richey said.
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