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Fargo K-9 officer credited with catching man who fled police

Jeff Saintal

FARGO – A K-9 officer is enjoying some well-deserved praise after tracking a suspect through a south Fargo field after he fled from officers early Thursday morning.

An officer in the area of Prairiewood Drive in south Fargo spotted a man wearing dark clothing and acting suspicious about 12:30 a.m., Lt. Joel Vettel said.

The area’s been hit with a number of car break-ins lately, and the officer approached the man, asking to speak with him.

As he did so, the man took off, Vettel said.

The pair raced through several yards in the neighborhood before the officer lost the man. Responding officers then set up a perimeter and a K-9 officer was called in.

After tracking the suspect for more than a mile, the K-9, Falco, found Jeff Saintal, 19, of Fargo, hiding in a field on the west side of  Interstate 29, near the Thunder Road Family Fun Park.

“The K-9 did a nice job,” Vettel said.

Police dogs are often rewarded by their handlers after the successful completion of a behavior like this arrest, sometimes by something as simple as time with their favorite toy, he said.

Falco, a Belgian malinois, joined the police force in 2012 and is handled by Officer Dave Cochran.

Vettel said Saintal is being held on suspicion of resisting arrest.

“We can’t state he’s a car prowler. We’re still investigating that,” he said. “At this point, he’s only charged with resisting, but his behavior is cause for concern.”

Vettel said investigators are trying to establish if there were thefts in the area that weren’t been reported yet at the time of Saintal’s arrest.