Edina K-9 Department Educates Boy Scouts

Officer Mike Seeger and K-9 Diesel educate Edina Boy Scouts.

When Pack 68 of the Edina Cub Scouts held their annual Blue and Gold Banquet last February, their entertainment was a presentation by Edina police officer Mike Seeger and his canine work partner, Diesel. This was the scouts’ first time meeting Diesel, but Seeger, who is also a Cub Scout leader for his son’s Webelos den, was a familiar face.Seeger is one of two Edina police officers specifically trained to work with canines. The Edina K-9 department, which was started in 1972 by Doug Madsen and his dog Jet, but quickly lost its steam after Madsen and Jet transferred to the Minneapolis Police Department one year later. But the program retooled in 2001 when officer Kevin Rofidal suggested to Police Chief Mike Siltari that they restart the canine police department. Siltari liked the idea, and Rofidal and his canine Kodiak hit the streets. In 2006 the department decided to introduce another dog and officer, and that’s when Seeger was handed a German shepherd puppy named Diesel. K-9 Kodiak has since retired, so today’s Edina K-9 police department consists of Seeger and K-9 officer Diesel, and Rofidal and K-9 officer Blade. Police dogs come from Europe, where the breeders train them as puppies for work as future K-9 officers. When Diesel was handed over to Seeger, the officer had to continue training him. Getting police certification for Diesel meant participating in an intense training program.  For 13 weeks, five days a week, eight hours a day, Seeger trained Diesel. They also underwent a two-week detection course. Seeger explains that dogs are trained to detect different substances, such as narcotics, bombs, arson, gas, and deer or fish. Diesel is trained in narcotics and tracking; he placed fourth nationwide in 2011 and 17th in 2012 for detecting, so he has the track record to prove it.     “Most dogs are on the streets for six to nine years,” Seeger explains. “Diesel is 8 years old, but his hips are still good and he still has a lot of energy, so Diesel will probably retire in a couple of years.” Seeger says that a retired K-9 will typically be adopted by the family of the police officer, as will be the case with Diesel. a p Dogs are known for their loyalty; not only does Seeger understand this, he lives it. He was Boy Scout himself in Troop 68 and achieved the rank of Eagle Scout; so when Seeger saw that his old Countryside Elementary Cub Scout group was in need, he became a den leader. “I’m always a go-getter, and if I see something that needs help I like to fix it.” Seeger became interested as a boy in becoming a police officer. As a student at Countryside Elementary, he became a junior police officer in the second grade. Today Seeger is on the other end of this program — for the past 13 years he has taught second- and third-graders to become junior police officers. “I teach them about being safe, calling 911, stranger danger and what they should do in case of an emergency.” After completing the one-week program, the students receive a badge. Last summer a girl applied the skills that Seeger taught her in class, and it may have saved her life. When a stranger pulled up and asked the girl to get into his car, she told Seeger, “I remembered that you told us to scream and run away, so I did.”  Not only did the girl scream and run, but she made a mental note of the color of his car, assisting police in tracking the suspect. Whether Seeger is doing police work with Diesel, teaching kids to become junior police officers, leading a pack meeting for troop 68 or helping out as a volunteer firefighter, he exemplifies the police motto “to protect and to serve.” Seeger knows where his loyalties come from. “With Boy Scouts I was always giving back to the community and doing what I could to help other people.  So I sort of took that to the extreme.”