Volunteers build K9 training equipment

Two volunteers built essential equipment for the canine members of the Marshalltown Police Department.

After 80 hours of work, Mike Nablo, 50, and John Helfer, 69, both of Marshalltown, recently finished building six wooden 4 ft. by 4 ft. boxes used for K9 training.

The police department needed the boxes after the original ones were destroyed following a wind storm in July of 2011.

Sgt. Melissa Ruopp, with the Marshalltown Police Department, said the MPD did not have the money to replace the equipment and Nablo and Helfer stepped up.

“Without their help I am pretty sure we would not have been able to do it,” said Ruopp. “They did an amazing job.”

Nablo, a volunteer with the police department for six years, said he built the boxes because he wanted to help the K9 program and he asked Helfer to assist.

“It’s a project that needed to be done,” Helfer said.

Nablo said the K9 program is a great help to the police department. “The canines keep the police safe,” Nablo said. “It’s safer sending a dog in the building than an officer, people can’t smell drugs and dogs can. They are an invaluable tool.”

The boxes are used for training the dogs to use their noses and locate a box a person is hiding in.

Once the dog locates the person, it barks to let the handler know that a person is inside. This prepares the dog for when it searches for a suspect hiding inside a business or residence, said Ruopp.