City of Burlington police officer Eric Willms and K9 Zander have made many community appearances since they partnered with each other last fall and helped catch numerous drug offenders.

Program is most effective in finding drugs, improving public relations

By Jason Arndt


Nearly a year ago, the City of Burlington Police Department partnered K9 Zander with officer Eric Willms, who became the third handler since the program was revived in 2017.

Despite the shaky start, the partnership has produced results, according to Police Chief Mark Anderson.

Anderson, who said the partnership includes community outreach, said he has received positive feedback from residents.

“Based on the feedback I have received, when he gets involved with public relations type events and trainings, it has been very favorable,” Anderson said.

The favorable partnership, Anderson reports, extends beyond community outreach.

Since July 1, Zander has been deployed 21 times, with four resulting in arrests for narcotics or drug paraphernalia possessions.

“…Twenty of the deployments were vehicle walk-arounds which resulted in four narcotic and/or drug paraphernalia arrests,” Anderson said. “The other deployment was a track and later arrest of a suspect who had fled on foot from a traffic stop.”

The most recent arrest came on the Burlington bypass, where Willms assisted a Racine County Sheriff’s deputy with a speeding motorist, and Zander detected drugs in the Franklin man’s vehicle.

The drugs included methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.

“Looking at the drugs he has taken off the street, I think both officer Willms and K9 Zander have done exemplary jobs together,” Anderson said.

Anderson credits ongoing trainings, Willms initiative to seek out more education, and teamwork with Racine County Sheriff’s K9 units.

“One of the responsibilities of having a K9 is the officer has to constantly seek out more training, so whether it is going up to Campbellsport, where he and Zander first got certified, or more locally, he will train with K9s employed by the Racine County Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “I think it has really helped our department.”

Willms, meanwhile, said on Monday he and Zander often exceed the minimum training requirement of 16 hours per month.

Willms said Zander has responded well to the trainings.

“We have to get re-certified once a year and then we are also required to do at least 16 hours of training per month,” he said. “We try to make it 24 at minimum.”

To read the entire story see the Aug. 29 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.