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As one door closes, another opens

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crime and courts River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

As one facet of his Pierce County Sheriff's Department career is likely ending, another one has opened up for Herman Kreig.

The K-9 officer for the last seven years, Kreig was promoted to Patrol Sergeant and started his new position Saturday.

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"I felt this was the next step in my law enforcement career," Kreig said, succeeding Tom Gunderson, who moved to investigations. In addition, he added, "These spots don't open too often; if you don't do it now, you may not get a chance again."

Kreig started his career with the sheriff's department in 1992 on a part-time basis until he went full-time in 1997. He spent three years working in dispatch/jail before moving over to patrol in 2000. In 2004, he became the K-9 officer.

Kreig's partner the last seven years has been "Packer," a Belgian Malinois. Packer is currently on medical leave and the future doesn't look good, Kreig explained. Tests have shown Packer in the last month came down with an infection which has caused his red blood cells to clump together. He lost 12 pounds in 10 days as a result.

He said Packer has improved, but his recommendation to his superiors is to start looking for a replacement dog.

"The department has to think like a business," he said. "Is it worth it spending money on treatment when you could be halfway towards a new dog?"

Research has found it will cost between $9,000 for a new dog and training.

"In this budget, we don't have the funds for both a new dog and to train one," Sheriff Nancy Hove said. "We will be searching other fundraising options for a new dog.

"K-9 has been a great asset to our department," she continued. "It's been used in every shift (Herman) has worked -- drug searches, lost people, chasing criminals. He's been used constantly.

"I would love to keep K-9."

So would Kreig, who will be giving up the position once Packer is officially retired.

"I've really enjoyed it," he said. "I've never regretted being the handler. It makes you more of a well-rounded officer."

But now, Kreig is walking through a new door in his sheriff's career and is looking forward to it.

"After 20 years, I knew it was time for something different," he said. "Broaden your horizons and meet new challenges."

He won't be alone, as his fellow Sergeant Mike Waltz is new on the job as well, as he started earlier this year.

Kreig feels he and Waltz will be alright, considering Waltz's background (investigator) and his.

"We both have a lot of life's experiences and a good understanding of how the system works," Kreig said.

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