He also desired a four-legged partner.
The Nobles County Sheriff’s deputy and his furry partner, Boriz, officially took to the streets last fall, but it has been anything but a game. Schei and Boriz have found great success intercepting real drug traffickers and confiscating illegal narcotics before they reach the market and users.
“(I) trust him and he trusts (me),” Schei said of the professional and personal relationship between him and his K-9.
In the short time Schei and Boriz have patrolled together, the duo has made significant drug busts along Interstate 90 — large enough to put Worthington and Nobles County on the regional and national radar.
Earlier this month, Schei and Boriz received the United States Police Canine Association’s Fourth Quarter Detector Case of the Quarter and 2017 Detector Case of the Year for Region 12 — which represents more than 120 agencies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Manitoba, Canada. The team also received the Fourth Quarter National Detector Case of the Quarter.
The case in question occurred in November 2017 along Interstate 90. Schei and Boriz discovered 20 pounds of methamphetamine, which had an estimated street value between $160,000 and $385,000. The case remains open and is being federally prosecuted.
Prior to notification of the awards, Schei said the 20-pound meth bust would always resonate with him, as it was the first major bust he and Boriz made together.
The team’s relationship was nurtured long before that late fall bust.
Schei and Boriz first became acquainted in 2016 when Schei traveled to North Iowa Canine in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to begin their training. Boriz received his USPCA certification in narcotics in March 2017 at the USPCA Narcotics Detection Dog Trials, where the team also received a trophy for the Best Rookie Handler and Best Rookie K-9.
The dual-purpose Belgian Malinois’ final certification was complete in August 2017, indicating Boriz was keen on suspect apprehension, handler protection and searches.
Then it was off to the races. The duo has made other significant busts — mostly marijuana — along I-90 in an approximately five-month period.
Schei said it’s impossible to know for certain whether illegal substances are destined for the Worthington area or if the significant amounts are just passing through to larger markets, like the Twin Cities.
“We do get some stuff that is coming here, but bigger cities need more amounts,” he said.
Schei had a difficult time describing what it’s like to be joined at the hip with 4-year-old Boriz, who is his partner both on and off-duty.
“He’s with me all the time,” Schei said. “He’s with me more than my family is with me. He’s a family dog that goes to work with me, basically.”
While having a K-9 partner was always the ultimate goal for Schei, it was not the reality on the first day on the job.
The Worthington native began fulfilling his childhood dream as a nontraditional student at Minnesota West Community and Technical College. Upon graduating, he landed his first job in 2011 as a part-time deputy. In 2013 he transitioned to full-time, but it would take another three years before the dog handler opportunity arose.
“I always wanted a K-9 partner, but before that spot (in the sheriff’s office) was already taken,” Schei said about his first few years on the department. “When it opened up, I showed interest.”
As someone who enjoys the drug and impairment-enforcement aspect, the night-shift deputy said getting Boriz opened a lot of doors.
“Dogs can give you probable cause to search a vehicle that you wouldn’t have had on your own,” Schei said about the K-9 resource and key opportunity a dog handler has in law enforcement.
Prior to loading up Boriz on each patrol call, Schei said he directed much of his enforcement attention to removing impaired drivers from area roadways.
“Driving while impaired is a safety concern to the public,” Schei said. “You see it all over the country — people getting hit by drunk drivers, families being destroyed.”
Schei’s DWI enforcement effort had also not gone unnoticed. He has attended multiple DWI All Star Awards Ceremonies, which occur at Minnesota Twins games. Officers across the state who have made DWI arrests are eligible for the annual consideration by the Minnesota Department of Traffic Safety, and invitations are usually extended to the highest enforcers based on their jurisdiction’s population.
Schei again ranked in the top DWI enforcers in 2017. With 33 DWI arrests, he ranked 58th out of 4,391 Minnesota officers who made DWI arrests last year.
Schei said he has not stopped looking for impaired drivers now that he has Boriz, but his focus has changed to best utilize his additional resource. Despite that change, Boriz is also assisting in DUI arrests, as impaired driving is not limited to alcohol consumption.
The team’s attitude of not liking to sit idle has likely fostered their successes. Another contributing factor could be the team’s near-daily training in collaboration with city and state cohorts.
Schei said as a relatively new handler, he enjoys the opportunity to train with Worthington’s three officer K-9 teams and one Minnesota State Patrol team. Training as a group as opposed to individually allows more realistic vehicle or building search scenarios and advice.
“It’s nice to have that camaraderie between all of us,” Schei said.