A photograph of Omaha police dog Falco shows him straining at the leash as his handler desperately tries to put on the brakes.
The picture was taken in 2013 by World-Herald photographer Chris Machian during a search for a shooting suspect near 46th Street and Ellison Avenue. You can see the joy of battle in the toothy grin of the Belgian Malinois.
Officer Aaron Hanson, Falco’s handler on the job and his chauffeur in retirement, called The World-Herald on Tuesday to say the 14-year-old canine crime fighter was being put to sleep. Falco had developed a brain tumor that was causing him to suffer as he experienced an increasing number of seizures.
Falco began working for the department in October 2008 and retired in February 2014.
“Falco had an incredible sense of smell. He was like no other dog I ever had,” Hanson said. “He literally could smell the suspect several houses away and pull us right to them.”
On Falco’s Twitter account, @OPDK9Falco, Hanson told the dog’s almost 1,500 fans of his death.
He suggested donations to the Omaha Police Foundation at omahapolicefoundation.com to help pay medical bills for service animals.
Hi.— K-9 Falco (Retired) (@OPDk9Falco) January 28, 2020
Wanted to let you all know, Falco passed away today.
He’s gone peacefully to be with his brothers Kobus and Skeen.
Thanks for all the support for him here.
Kept cops safe.
Served OPD Oct 2008 - Feb 2014 pic.twitter.com/YfoaoogOde
“Hi, Chauffeur here. Wanted to let you all know, Falco passed away today. He’s gone peacefully to be with his brothers Kobus and Skeen. Thanks for all the support for him here. Tough dog. Beloved knucklehead. Kept cops safe. Good boy.”
It was easy to join Falco’s fan club if you regularly listen to the police scanners. When suspects flee from police, officers set up perimeters and the police dog patrols are called in to flush out the suspects.
One day, some scanner traffic referred to a fleeing suspect. As officers searched the area, the suspect popped up and began climbing over a tall fence.
“He’s going over the fence,” an officer radioed. “Oh, no he’s not. Falco’s got him!”
When Falco retired, he immediately began patrolling the perimeter of Hanson’s backyard with the fervent hope, his chauffeur said, “that some lawbreaker climbs the fence.”
Sadly, one never did.