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A Minnesota police force mourns the loss of one of its finest

His colleagues organized a retirement party for Blade, who had an aggressive cancer.

After seven years of service, the end came quickly for K9 officer Blade. The Edina Police Department announced Tuesday that Blade died earlier this month after developing an aggressive form of cancer.

Blade was an immigrant. He was born in Slovakia, the department says, and became a K9 officer in 2010 at the age of 18 months. Since then he'd made more than 150 drug searches, checked out more than 100 buildings and apprehended more than 75 suspects.

Police Chief Dave Nelson says besides being an asset to law enforcement, Blade was a presence in Edina – making lots of appearances at community events over the years.

But of the estimated 7,000 people who met Blade, none will feel his loss like Officer Jason Behr. The two worked together throughout Blade's entire seven-year career.

"It’s amazing the impact that a four-legged animal can have on you -- especially one that you spend most of your waking hours with,” said Behr. “Blade was both my partner and my best friend. He was my protector and my companion. His passing creates a void that will never be filled."

Behr and his fellow officers threw a retirement party for Blade in January. Before then, the local TV show Beyond the Badge profiled the working relationship between Behr and Blade.

Edina already has plans to install a monument to its K9 officers outside the police department this fall.

The life-sized bronze sculpture has already been commissioned but there's still a fundraising campaign for a stone pedestal and the landscaping around the memorial. Donations are being collected through the Edina Crime Prevention Fund.

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