Empty Bell Bank building gives West Fargo K9 unit a unique training opportunity

The bank offered up its former building after moving locations

WEST FARGO, N.D. — On any given day several months ago, the Bell Bank branch on Sheyenne Street would look and sound a lot different than it did Tuesday.

“This is rare. I mean, you don’t find a bank that’s open and nobody’s in where dogs can come in here and train,” said West Fargo Police Sgt. Pete Nielsen.

Since the banking team has moved locations, they handed over their empty building to provide law enforcement with an opportunity they and their K9s rarely get.

Ordinarily, the unit would have to train in city buildings they are familiar with.

“The amount of training that we’re going to be able to do in one day is going to be unbelievable,” Nielsen explains. “The scenarios that we’re going to be able to put the dogs through today inside of this building is extremely valuable for the dog and the handler.”

So valuable that other agencies, including from Iowa and Illinois, are taking part in the drills.

Building searches, dealing with narcotics and catching the bad guys are all on the agenda.

“When the dog comes in here, they get to see different things that they’ve never seen Maybe the taller tellers, the windows, the offices,” Nielsen adds.

It’s a space that more than 20 Bell Bank employees once occupied, and where dangerous situations are possible.

“Something like that could happen in a bank,” said Bell commercial banker Johnathan Donnelly. “So to me, the fact that they’re able to train here in a bank is exciting for us to see.”

Branch manager Kris Hasbargen added, “I never knew that that’s the process they go through, so yes, if we ever had to use their services, I feel confident.”

Collaboration between different organizations across the community, they say, make unique opportunities like this possible.

West Fargo has three K9s: Macho, ToSti and Brewtus.

Categories: Crime, Local News, North Dakota News