Skip to main content

Rider's Almanac Blog

Transit Police

K-9 Merle sniffed and snuggled his way into MTPD fame

Posted by Drew Kerr | Monday, December 28, 2020 10:42:00 AM

K-9 Merle and his officer handler Scott Tinucci at Target Field Station.

Metro Transit Police Department K-9s are trained to protect the community by sniffing out shell casings and explosives.   

But Merle, a black Labrador who was among the department's first K-9s, also served as a four-footed goodwill ambassador, attending countless community events, posing for photos and putting smiles on kids' faces. 

Merle, 8, was laid to rest in early December due to medical conditions that could not be resolved. His death leaves the department with four K-9 teams. 

"A lot of my memories are of the Special Olympics, the meet and greets and the way Merle was with people,'' said his handler, Officer Scott Tinucci. "He would let people lay on him. He loved the kids. `Come pet me,' he seemed to be saying." 

Besides his social skills, Merle was a decorated and hard-working K-9. He earned repeated accolades from the U.S. Police Canine Association, regularly swept areas after explosives threats and helped with several high-profile events like the Super Bowl. 

On several occasions, he also helped take guns off the streets, including one that helped link a fleeing suspect to a crime. 

"The first time he found a gun was in the middle of winter," Tinucci said. "He was running toward a tree. He stopped at this mound of snow there, buried his nose in it, sat down and looked up at me. Sure enough, there was a gun there." 

Chief Eddie Frizell also remembered Merle for his "puppy-like" energy and gentleness with people of all ages. "He will be missed by many and, perhaps most of all, by his partner, Officer Tinucci,'' Frizell said.