Walbridge K-9 handler ordered to resign over missing weapon, seeks to keep dog


WALBRIDGE —The village K-9 police officer, who was ordered to resign over his missing weapon, wants to
keep the dog that he has worked and lived with since the puppy was a few weeks old.
Nick Colwell, who resigned Jan. 12, said he would pay the $1,500, which was the purchase price for the
Western German shepherd, if necessary.
But Mayor Ed Kolanko said the dog, Echo, is Walbridge property and has already been assigned to another
More importantly, Kolanko said, Colwell has betrayed the village and doesn’t deserve to have the dog.
"At the end of the day, we still have a village-issued weapon somewhere out on the streets and we
don’t know where it’s at," Kolanko said. "The safety is something that keeps me up at
He said that Colwell’s weapon wasn’t registered as stolen or lost for 20 days.
"That’s just unacceptable," Kolanko said. "Brad (Fisher, acting supervisor, who has also
resigned) and Nick dropped the ball on that.
"We can talk about the dog all day long, but at the end of the day we have a village-issued gun
that’s out there missing," he said. "The dog is important, but the the safety and security of
everyone is really important."
An investigation into Colwell was started earlier this month when Chris Rutledge was appointed acting
police supervisor by council at the Jan. 3 meeting, Kolanko said.
Rutledge, the mayor said, learned later that evening that Colwell’s village-issued gun allegedly had been
stolen from his vehicle at Franklin Park Mall in Toledo. Colwell had not filed a report, Kolanko said.
When pressed to make one with the Toledo Police Department, his story changed to the gun being left in
an unlocked trunk, the mayor said.
"The end of the story is Nick had not filed the TPD report and lied to us on multiple
situations," Kolanko said. "That is a terminable offense. Also, not taking care of equipment
is a terminable offense."
Colwell was asked to resign and turn in Echo, which he did last week, Kolanko said.
A friend of Colwell’s, Ashley York, tried to speak about the issue at Wednesday’s council meeting. Her
statement was cut off by Solicitor Brian Ballenger.
"We don’t discuss employees who no longer work for the village in a public meeting," he said.

"Really?" York said. "We’ll go another route."
After the council meeting, she provided a copy of the statement, which had Colwell’s name on it.
"I am asking council to help in determining his (Echo’s) future," he said in the statement.
"Since day one of purchasing this dog, K-9 Echo has spent every moment with me. K-9 Echo has not
only worked alongside of me, gone through extensive training with me as his only handler, but has also
shared my home and become a part of my family."
Another friend, Jessica Iler, said she has become friends with Colwell. She works at the Walbridge Subway
"I know Echo super personally as well," she said by phone on Thursday. "It’s just breaking
our hearts."
Iler said that since the village does not have a formal K-9 policy, a contract or even any paperwork on
the dog, council should sell Echo to Colwell, then start over with the program.
"He’s going to be worthless at this point," Iler said of the dog. "It’s going to be hard
for the dog to go from one alpha to the next.
"He just really, really thinks they’re not doing right by the dog," she said of Colwell.
"He wasn’t just his partner. It was part of his family."
Iler added that people should be allowed to address council about the situation.
"Community donations paid for the dog and we want to know what’s going on with the dog," she
Kolanko said that Patrolman Terry Glosser, who has been with Walbridge police for 18 months, has Echo and
could be the new K-9 officer. He will be at Friday’s council safety committee meeting, set for 5:30 in
the town hall.
Kolanko said it’s easy to get attached to Echo.
"You can’t help but fall in love with the dog. But you have to realize it’s a working animal. It’s
designed to be a community animal," Kolanko said.
"I understand Nick is going through some struggles with separation. … I sympathize with that. At
the same time, his decision wasn’t good and his credibility is shot."
Council President Larry Boday said he doesn’t think council would approve selling Echo to Colwell.
"In my opinion, I don’t think he’s going to get the dog back," Boday said. "He’s got some
issues in his personal life and from his actions I don’t see him as being a good candidate."
He added that he would like to see the K-9 program continue in Walbridge.
"I’m for it. I think the village has really gotten to love Echo. I think it’s going to be a good
thing for Echo and the surrounding area to have him for drug trafficking."
Echo was just 8 weeks old when he was introduced to the community in August. The plan was to have the dog
be fully certified in narcotics and tracking by this August, then work on bite certification, which will
aid in apprehension.
The K-9 arrived in the village just a few weeks after Police Chief Walt Tylicki took his own life. Brad
Fisher was appointed acting supervisor, but resigned in December. A letter from Fisher on Colwell’s
behalf was submitted to council on Wednesday.
The search for a new police chief is continuing.
Boday said a half dozen applications have been received, but won’t be reviewed until the Feb. 16
"I’m hopeful we can get our police department back on track," he said. "This is just a
hiccup in a long line of hiccups. Hopefully we can get past it."

No posts to display