Man’s best friend: Frieda teams up with Yara to police town

Mike Moore photo
Glenrock Police Department Officer Bill Frieda praises Yara after successfully sniffing out marijuana planted in the gas tank of a dummy vehicle July 13.

Ethan Brogan

Out on the streets of Glenrock, police can call for backup at any time. If an officer needs a second pair of eyes or ears, one is only a moment away. Now, Glenrock Police Department officer Bill Frieda will pack some extra backup beside his fellow officers: Belgian Malinois Yara.
“The camaraderie between the two of us, it’s like we’re a team,” Frieda said. “She’s trusting me to keep her safe (and ) I trust her to keep me on the right path.”
Frieda spent two weeks in Louisiana, finishing a canine handler’s class to become in tune with Yara.  Before former chief Tim Hurd left for Torrington, he set up the training for Frieda with an instructor on canine concepts.
The class was rigorous, requiring constant training exercises and learning experiences for both service dogs and trainers. Over the course of the training, Frieda got a taste at what kind of asset a trained K-9 unit can bring to an officer on the job.
“It’s a whole different world . . . it’s such a specialized thing,” he said. “I used to think anyone can be a canine handler but then when I went to the class I went, ‘holy smokes.’”
One of Frieda’s first nights out with Yara, he stopped a vehicle leaving South Rec from the July 4, Glenrock fireworks.
The man in the vehicle allegedly admitted to having drugs on the floor of the vehicle and, in order to keep Yara safe, Frieda searched the vehicle and allegedly found .4 grams of methamphetamine and marijuana.
“I want to keep her safe,” Frieda said. “I just didn’t know what he had in there.”
During the training, he was warned about the dangers of having a service animal looking for loose drugs. The risks to having an animal exposed to drugs, such as methamphetamine, could cost the dog its life.
“If I see something that is going to possibly be a hazard to her. . . I’m not going to let her sniff it,” Frieda said.
Having symmetry with a service dog is important and the hand signals and phrases from the Dutch and German languages help Frieda maintain control of a possible situation. Frieda will say “blieffe” meaning Yara will wait while he walks in first to check a room for any loose substances which could hurt the dog.
“I am going to make sure everything is safe for her,” Frieda said. “I don’t want her to step on a needle or if there’s meth over there that somebody’s dumped out and it’s on the floor. I don’t need her sniffing that.”
Yara looks after Frieda too. When someone approaches the police cruiser, Yara start to bark.
“I don’t want to change that,” he said. “When someone tries to walk up to my car she’s gonna give them an earful and let me know someone is coming.”
Dogs can be trained for either passive or aggressive tactics. Yara is trained for passive, to find the illicit substance and calmly point it out to the officer.
“She’ll find it and she’ll put her nose right to it and her body will change, her breathing will change and she’ll sit,” Frieda said, remarking that a more aggressive stye would have the canine scratch at the area the animal has identified.
When given the chance, Frieda will take Yara out on mock drug searches, using confiscated marijuana or pseudo-cocaine for practice.
“Their noses are so much better. They smell things that we can’t even begin to smell,” Frieda said. “Somebody is trying to hide something from you and you see the dog and the way the dog acts you know there is something there.”
Frieda has worn many hats while at various law enforcement agencies. When he worked with the state parole office in downtown Denver, he learned about in ins-and-outs of gangs.
Since joining the GPD last October, Frieda has been working patrol shift, and when he got the opportunity to be a  dog handler, he took it.
“It’s been a goal of mine, I have always wanted to be a canine handler,” he said. “It always seemed interesting to actually have a dog that can sniff out drugs.”
When he and Yara finished a shift they head back over to Frieda’s residence in Glenrock, where Yara behaves like a regular dog. Sleeping on the couch and doing relaxing activities such as playing ball, is only interrupted by short training sessions during the day. To keep Yara vigilant, Frieda tries to spend at least 15-20 minutes a day running through exercises he learned from their training. Still, Frieda spends time letting Yara be a dog and letting her relax.
“She’s very sociable, she loves people,” Frieda said. “You put her in the car and you would think she is a demon dog, she just goes ballistic she’s ready to work she’s ready to go.”


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