After sniffing out crime for 10 years with the Naperville Police Department, a key member of the department went out on his last patrol Wednesday night and retired.
Since 2002, Kairo, a member of the Naperville Police Department's K-9 unit, patrolled the streets of Naperville with his handler Officer Eddie Corneliusen. At 11 years old (he turns 12 in September), Kairo was still more than ready to work, but age was beginning to take its toll physically.
“I would say mixed emotions are a good way to put it,” Corneliusen said Wednesday night of the last patrol. “I feel good we have lasted as long as we have. We’ve had a good run. I don’t think most K-9 teams last 10 years, most retire before that. … It’s bittersweet that it’s last time we will be riding around. He’s at the age where he slowing down. We are closing this chapter and opening another.”
The pair was the longest working K-9 team in the department’s history, Corneliusen said. On the last night patrolling, Kairo helped sniff out drugs and seize property, which he said was a good way to end his career.
The goal was to go out on a good note and then head on home, he said.
Kairo has had a good life so far and Corneliusen said it is about to get a little bit cushier.
“I will take him home with me,” he said. “It would be pretty hard to give him up. I spend more time with this dog than I do with my whole family. That bond is pretty tight. I will gladly take home with me and hopefully give him a good life for the rest of his years.”
Corneliusen credits the team’s success and length of service with Kairo’s training that he received at Tops Kennels in Grayslake.
“Their training has allowed me to address or deal with situations we’ve encountered or things encountered on the street,” he said. “It doesn’t seem that anything we encountered was beyond our reach. And, I have to give them a lot of credit. Without their help I don’t think I would have achieved the level of success that we have.”
Corneliusen will go back to his regular patrols and will continue working his night shift, he said. At the end of the year he will re-evaluate if he continues on the shift or seeks out other opportunities.
The days of Kairo being tasked to search for people or drag things out are over, but Corneliusen said he hopes to take him on training sessions occasionally to keep him engaged physically and mentally. But, he said Kairo deserves his retirement.
“It’s been a 10 long years and we’ve asked him to do a lot of things. I think he’s proven his weight in gold, not even in drug finds or things like that,” Corneliusen said. “Just showing up on the scene and calming parties down and saving officers from injury. You never know who is going to fight with you or cause an injury to someone else.
“Not to mention the people we’ve been able to apprehend or the money seizures and drug seizures.”