Beyond the Badge: Teamwork between Marshall County Deputy and K-9 Diesel
MARSHALL COUNTY, Ind. --- ABC57’s Beyond the Badge series continues with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department. The department is based in Plymouth, about 35 miles from downtown South Bend.
This week, get a unique look at how the teamwork between a K-9 and his handler helps keep Michiana safe and why community support means so much to the job.
Deputy Blake Bennett has been a police officer for a little over five years, half of that time spent in Marshall County. Bennett’s been working with his K-9, Diesel, for just under a year.
“Every time that I’m working he’s in the back with me,” Bennett said. “He’s definitely my best friend and we trust each other with our lives.”
Bennett said serving the Marshall County community means everything to him.
“For me, it's about fulfilling a life of service to others,” Bennett said. “I love the Marshall County community. Honestly, I, you know, they're so supportive of us in general, and I think if, you know, I didn't have that community support that we do here, I probably wouldn't be a police officer.”
“I love to help people,” Marshall County Sheriff Matthew Hassel said. “I love working with people, and that's what this job is really all about.”
Matt Hassel has been the Marshall County Sheriff for just over six years, first getting his start in law enforcement at the department in 1981.
“We're so fortunate where we're at, because we are truly supported by the community here,” Hassel said. “They make me feel like the cheerleading squad when you're playing football, you know, they're out there. Their job is to motivate and inspire you and that's what having the public support does for me.”
Sheriff Hassel oversees more than 46,000 residents. 27,000 people live in the county, not in the incorporated areas.
They have a lot of ground to cover, about 450 sq. miles and face a lot of the same issues other communities do, but their biggest problem is drugs.
“We focus on prevention,” Hassel explained. “I hate to be a responder, that's when you respond to what’s already happening.”
That’s part of what makes Deputy Bennett’s job as a K-9 handler so important. When he’s in between calls for service out on patrol or not actively investigating a case, he’s always working on crime prevention and training Diesel.
“A lot of people, when they think of the narcotics detecting dogs, they just think about the dogs running around vehicles on traffic stops when in reality, we use them for a lot of other reasons,” Bennett explained. “Some of those reasons include doing door bottom sniffs of motels or storage units to open area searches, searching ditches for evidence that has been discarded from the vehicle.”
“There's always something that you can improve upon, and so that's why we're training; it's that consistency factor and, you know, so that we can be a reliable team for everybody,” Bennett said.
“It's all about doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason, that's what we're here for,” Hassel said. “We're going to do our best to provide the highest quality service we can to our community because we know they care about us.”
“I know it's sometimes hard to see behind the badge, but, and just kind of understand that, you know, when we see you sometimes... I know it's probably your darkest moment and just know that we don't, we don't judge based on that because nobody deserves to be judged at their darkest moment,” Bennett said.