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Departments : Officer of the Month

Michigan Officer Starts K-9 Unit, Serves 26 Years In Honor Guard

Officer Dan Foley is the NLEOMF's Officer of the Month for February.

February 22, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

Photo: Dan Foley
Photo: Dan Foley

Officer Dan Foley has spent the last 26 years with the Wyandotte (Mich.) Police Department. Within that time he has served continuously in the honor guard and successfully lobbied to start its first K-9 unit, for which he was a handler for 14 years with two different dogs. For his passion and devotion, Officer Foley has been selected as the February 2012 Officer of the Month by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Most rookies are busy concentrating on the thrill of the chase, not their mortality or anyone else's. But as a new officer at Wyandotte PD, Foley jumped at the chance to fill an open position on the department's honor guard, helping to put officers to rest as well as occasionally marching in parades. It's hard for him to explain what motivated him to join, and then to stay with the honor guard for so long. It's certainly not for monetary compensation, of which there is little or none.

"When the family members come up to you and you see in their eyes what it meant that their loved one was cared for properly and honorably, and wasn't forgotten in the case of retirees...early on it triggered something in my heart and in my head that said this is the right thing to do," says Foley. "As we say, 'Never forgotten.'"

This is not to say that Foley doesn't appreciate a good chase and catching criminals. Another longtime passion of his is working as a K-9 handler. He lobbied long and hard to convince department administration to start its own detail, at a time when K-9 units were not common in his area.

"All I wanted to do my entire career was to handle a K-9," Foley says. "Very shortly after I came on the department I remember going to a demo that a local training facility put on regarding the K-9 program and that was it. I was bitten from that point on, no pun intended."

Foley and his first K-9, a German Shepherd named Khan after Genghis Khan, frequently deployed with local, state, and federal agencies, "seizing in excess of $600,000 in narcotics-related cash and property," according to the Wyandotte PD's Website. Khan died of the neurological disorder German Shepherd Degenerative Myelopathy in 2006, but Foley didn't throw in the towel. He and his current K-9, Rommel, named after the general, were assigned to the Special Operations Unit.

In addition to aiding officers with searches out in the field, both Foley and Rommel have enjoyed visiting children in schools and acting as goodwill ambassadors on behalf of law enforcement. People who remember meeting him in class still come up to Foley and tell him how much they enjoyed the encounter when they were kids. While he readily recognizes the positive influence he has had on such children in allowing them to see a more human side of police officers, he's less comfortable accepting a formal award for his service to the community.

"It's a little awkward receiving this recognition. There are many officers out there that are just as passionate as me," Foley says. "My wife is extremely proud, as are my kids."

After spending so much time in the profession, he hasn't ruled out returning to law enforcement at some point after hanging his hat up at the end of 2011, and apparently neither has K-9 Rommel.

"I'm still trying to wrap my head around this thing they call retirement. Same with my K-9," Foley says. "It's been an incredible honor to be able to serve the citizens of the City of Wyandotte."

Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Ret. Off. Colonel Barton @ 2/22/2012 9:03 PM

After 32 years of service, and 17 years as a k-9 officer for The Indianapolis IN Police Dept.I still miss the job, and the people who work with me. My dogs were patrol and drug trained also, so it kept me going. Now that I'm retired I sometimes wish I was back at it, however retirement is good. Hang in there.

Todd Browning @ 2/24/2012 10:29 AM

Officer Foley is a man of integrity and has served the City of Wyandotte well. I will miss seeing him and Rommel protecting our city. I’m thankful for Officer Foley and what he has accomplished. He is truly an OUTSTANDING man and I have the utmost respect for him and his family. Congratulations on your retirement, THANK YOU for your service and dedication. I wish you a long healthy retirement.

Sue Leffew @ 2/24/2012 1:12 PM

You did a great job, I had the honor of knowing both you and K9s and seeing what great partners you were and are. Dont be a stranger.

tim tye @ 2/24/2012 1:28 PM

u r a credit to ur department, & ur city Dan, i know Donna is very proud of u.

Ryan Bidwell @ 2/25/2012 7:43 PM

I have had the honor of training and working with Axel for several years in an honor guard role. There is no person more dedicated, professional or modest than Dan.  I consider it an honor to call him a friend and brother.  I believe this is a fitting tribute to a man who's dedicated his career to seeing that those who've made the ultimate sacrifice are properly honored and never forgotten. 

Gary R. King @ 2/27/2012 4:35 AM

Wyandotte is a very unique community, blessed with a caring for it's people's success that keeps us growing, while other communities around us are shrinking. That concern is expressed, all the more, in our excellent law enforcement community, with Officer Foley and "Rommel", serving as a prime examples. We will miss him(them!), but the legacy will continue--for that I am very grateful!

Al Starzec @ 2/27/2012 8:48 AM

Congratulations on your retirement Dan. We will miss you in our community as an officer of the law. Enjoy your time. I am extending a perpetual inviatation to our annual VFW picnic as you and Rommel have always attended, duty permitting. Wyandotte is extremely blessed to have such a fine Police force protecting our City. Congats again.

Theresa Grzechowski @ 2/27/2012 10:35 AM

Congratulations Dan! You are very deserving of this honor, and I know Donna and your Family are very proud of you. Your dedication and devotion to the Honor Guard brought comfort to many families in their time of need. It takes a special man to perform that kind of duty. Thank you. You and Rommel will be greatly missed!

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