The Blue Ash Police Department received a donation from The Matt Haverkamp Foundation in September of 2007 to purchase a K9 – a German Shepherd named Nico. Nico, Officer Chris Zielinski’s loyal partner, quickly became a staple of the department and a local celebrity. Nico was rarely ever seen out and about without his tennis ball. Dozens of community organizations and schools enjoyed presentations and demonstrations by Officer Zielinski and Nico. These organizations frequently, and specifically, requested Nico and his handler to visit. Nico made friends everywhere he went and often visited local businesses, such as the local Shell gas station, where he stopped to visit each Sunday, providing joy and a sense of security to the citizens of Blue Ash.
Nico and Officer Zielinski won numerous top place trophies and medals at various regional United States Police Canine Association competitions by demonstrating their expertise and professionalism in the field. Nico was highly trained in narcotics and tracking – assisting many police departments in the Cincinnati area and catching numerous individuals wanted for various crimes during his 8 years of service.
During Nico’s career, the duo tracked drown numerous suspects through rugged and sometimes treacherous conditions. One such endeavor was on a snowy, frigid 10 degree night in February of 2010 in Evendale where Nico found the suspect hiding under a river embankment. Nico also successfully tracked a suspect through a river in Whitewater Township in June of 2011 after the suspect hit a pregnant woman with his car and fled the scene. During the last month of his career, Nico successfully recovered more than 220 pounds of marijuana – his largest narcotic recovery ever.
Sadly, on Saturday, May 10, 2014, Nico passed away after a brief illness. He had a very successful and noteworthy 8 year career with the Blue Ash Police Department and is still missed dearly. Blue Ash’s Mayor declared June 12, 2014 as “K9 Nico Day” in the City of Blue Ash to honor this noble and dedicated public servant. His handler and co-workers at the Blue Ash Police Department wanted to “pay it forward” to honor Nico and keep his memory alive. They raised more than $1,000 to donate back to The Matt Haverkamp Foundation so that they could help other police departments in the Cincinnati area purchase police K9s.