Behind-the-scenes look at Madison Co. K-9 deputy Timo


MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — The Madison County Sheriff’s Department consists of 281 full-time employees — 190 men, 90 women and one German Shepherd named Timo.

Timo became a member of the team in October 2016, and since then has already been involved in a number of arrests, including an I-40 traffic stop that led deputies to 65 pounds of marijuana.

“The officers ended up stopping a vehicle, had probable cause to stop the vehicle,” Madison County Sheriff John Mehr said. “They got there, they saw something was unusual and, of course, immediately contacted for Timo to come out.”

Sheriff Mehr says he brought the K-9 unit back to Madison County because, from his experience, he realizes it’s a worthwhile investment, having paid about $7,500 for the trained pooch, a joint venture with the Metro Narcotics division.

“We want to use every tool at our disposal,” Mehr said. “If it’s out there and we think it can help us and the citizens of Madison County or the other law enforcement agencies around us, that’s what we want to do.”

Timo is what they call a dual-purpose dog, meaning he can not only detect the presence of narcotics but can also track a person’s scent.

“He’s trained on the four odors — marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin — and when you see him sit down, that’s him alerting to that odor,” Deputy Matthew Nierenberger said.

Nierenberger is Timo’s handler and trained with him for three weeks before they took Timo on as a member of the team. He continues to train with Timo at least once a week to keep his senses sharp.

“We try to make the training as realistic as what we’re doing on the street,” Nierenberger said.

Sheriff Mehr says Timo has a flexible schedule but works a shift just like every other member of the team. But for Timo, his handler says, work doesn’t seem like work at all.

“To him, I think it’s all just a game to him, because all he wants is his toy,” Nierenberger said.

Deputy Nierenberger says the bond he and Timo have is also crucial to their performance as a law enforcement team.

“I spend as much time with him as I do anybody in my family,” Nierenberger said. “He goes everywhere I go, and he goes home with me, and he plays with my kids. And it’s just like he’s part of the family.”

Sheriff Mehr would eventually like to add to the department’s K-9 unit, but naturally cost is a concern. Including the $16,000 from the Metro Narcotics division, Timo rang up to a grand total of $23,500.

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