The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department is making some much-needed improvements to their vehicles.
You may remember some months ago when a suspect took a sheriff’s cruiser for a joyride after squeezing through the window between the front and back seats.
Thursday, the sheriff’s department unveiled new bars put in the car to prevent that from happening again.
Taylor Jones has been sworn in as the newest member of the Montgomery Township Police Department.
Jones, 23, a former U.S. Marine based at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, had the highest cumulative score of recent police applicants, said Police Chief Richard J. Brady prior to Jones’ swearing in ceremony at Monday night’s meeting of the township supervisors.
The police cadet will now begin the 23-week course at the Montgomery County Municipal Police Training Academy. Upon its successful completion, he will undergo a period of training within the department as a field recruit, going on patrols with experienced officers, Brady said.
Jones’ hiring became effective Jan. 27.
A longtime Yakima police officer is calling it quits.
Sergeant Bob Hester has been with YPD since 1974.
He served as the department’s union president and also was on YPD’s SWAT team.
He said he has been planning to retire since last year, adding that the decision had nothing to do with labor disputes involving Chief Sam Granato.
He said he will miss teaching younger officers.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities in teaching,” Hester said. “Not only in SWAT but in less lethal and narcotics raids.”
“I’ve got his e-mail and cell phone number and I’ll probably be calling him frequently,” Detective Michael Nielsen, who succeeds Hester as Yakima Police Patrolman’s Association President, said.
Hester will serve as a consultant to the union on labor negotiations for the next year or two.
Thomson’s newest police canine, Eba, has a special mission: “to take a bite out of crime.”
Eba, a three-year-old German Sheppard, has been on the job for the past three weeks and enjoying herself, according to her handler and partner, Sgt. John James of the Thomson Police Department.
“I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve seen thus far,” said Sgt. James, who recently became a certified canine handler. “She’s very good at her job. We’ve bonded very well with each other.”
Eba is specially trained in the field of narcotics detection and trailing. Already, she has alerted on searches of several vehicles that have been stopped for various traffic related offenses. A small amount of cocaine, some marijuana and a drug pipe have been discovered by police since Eba first joined the force.
She also has helped aid in the arrest of a pair of drug suspects recently stopped for a traffic offense by Deputy Robert Hoffman of the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Department.
Aside from her abilities to detect for narcotics, she also is highly-trained in the areas of ground disturbance and air-scenting for human odor.
“I just like a trailing dog better than a tracking dog, because you don’t have to have a scent article and things like that to help the tracking dog,” said Sgt. James. “Both dogs are good at what they do, though – don’t get me wrong. I just prefer the trailing method over the tracking method.”
Through the years, the Thomson Police Department has had several K-9s, but it’s been a year since the department had their last one, Kubo, now retired.
“It’s very beneficial to our department to have a K-9,” said Sgt. James, who received three weeks of intensive training this past December at Tarheel Canine in Sanford, N.C. That particular training facility is where Sgt. James became certified as a K-9 handler and where Eba was trained, too.
Tarheel Canine’s police K-9 training is licensed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as by the North Carolina DHR and U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Bureau.
“It’s one of the best K-9 training facilities in the country,” said Sgt. James. “I really learned a lot there and so did Eba.”
While there, Eba also received obedience and practical agility training and handler protection, along with other specialized training.
Aside from the training that he received at Tarheel Canine, Sgt. James also is required to perform a minimum of 16 hours of special training with his dog.
“People have been very open to letting us train around Thomson,” added Sgt. James. “I really appreciate how private individuals and those in the business community have supported us in our training requests and more importantly, perhaps, their financial contributions.”
Without the financial help of local individuals and businesses, it would have been impossible for the Thomson Police Department to have acquired another K-9 and funded the training of both the dog and a handler.
“I can’t thank everybody enough for their support and how well received the new dog has been in our community,” said Sgt. James. “It shows their commitment to the safety of this community. The money they’ve donated for the purchase of the dog and training speaks volumes about each of them.”
Bob Flanders and Carolyn Andrews have been “highly supportive” in allowing local training at the Thomson Housing Authority, he explained.
“They’ve allowed us to search units that are undergoing remodeling and things like that,” said Sgt. James. “It’s really been very helpful. And it helps us get that training that we need every month.”
The dog will work the same schedule as Sgt. James. Eba also will be on-call when needed to assist other Thomson police officers, deputies with the McDuffie County Sheriff’s Department, the Georgia State Patrol or any other area law enforcement agency.
Helping hands in the community
The following individuals, businesses or government agency helped to fund the purchase of the new Thomson police K-9 and her training. They included:
The Toombs Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office
Hoover Treated Wood Products
Triple M Hotels (White Columns Inn)
Two State Construction Company
Vel-Star Medical Transport
Interstate Equipment Co.
Jimmy & Dena’s
Affordable Auto Glass
Dallas and Medlin
Beggs Funeral Home
Jimmy Plunkett Law Firm
Badcock Home Furniture
Dr. John Bieltz
Strother’s Paint and Body
Wester Veterinary Clinic
C & C Tire Service
The Wilson Company
Watson & Knox
Some local K-9 unit police officers and and a sheriff’s deputy teamed up for a big weight loss challenge. Thursday, they found out their hard work has earned them a $10,000 prize in the Body for Life fitness challenge.
The metro area K-9 handlers thought they were meeting up at the La Vista Police Department for a conference call. Instead, representatives from the fitness program they’ve been following surprised them with the check.
“Congratulations,” one representative announced, “You are the large group 2009 Grandmaster Body for Life champions.”
“It’s awesome. It’s awesome,” said Bellevue police officer Chad Heller.
The big money is a reward for losing big weight. Combined, the eight participants lost nearly 230 pounds and nearly 49 percent body fat.
“We like to think that equates to getting one bad guy off the streets,” joked LaVista police officer John York, who spearheaded the effort last January. Officers had various reasons for signing on.
“K-9 training and the handling of the dogs can be a vigorous job, so we wanted to improve ourselves in that regard,” said York.
Fellow La Vista police officer John Danderand said, “I was tired of trying to compete with the young guys and running behind them all the time.”
Bellevue police officer Dustin Franks said his motivation came from one moment on the job. “For the first time ever, I was outrun by a suspect and I think that’s when, you know, I had to draw the line.”
For Bellevue police officer Chad Heller, it was something his then pregnant wife said to him. “She said that she hoped her stomach didn’t get as big as mine. So that was a little bit of motivation.”
The baby, Ella, is now 7 months old. Heller says he’s more capable of keeping up with her after losing 32 pounds in the challenge. He’s kept most of it off.
Heller’s wife, Sue, said the transformation has been huge. “He looks awesome, he looks awesome.”
“It was good to see him conscious of what he was eating. He gave up pop, that was a big deal, and, to have him working out, it’s great.”
The officers worked out at least five days a week during the challenge. While some admit they’ve slowed down, they’ve all remained fit.
“I’m not tired all the time,” Heller said. “I don’t feel like just lying around on my days off.”
More productive off the job and better at their jobs, the men say their benefits go well beyond a cash reward.
The K-9 handlers had some good local role models, prodding them along in their success. Members of the Papillion Police Department won the same Body for Life group challenge in 2006.
For more information on the Body for Life program including recipes used by the K-9 team, Click here
Draco, the canine half of Prince William police K-9 Unit 425, worked his last shift Wednesday night.
After nine and a half years, Draco is free to do as he pleases.
Master Police Officer Kevin Jennings, Draco’s handler and the other half of the team, said that in his retirement Draco would probably do a lot of “laying around the backyard.”
“He’ll be a family pet,” Jennings said of Draco, who will continue to live with the family.
Taking it easy might be a little hard for the 11-year-old, Czech-born German shepherd who likes to go out on patrol.
“When I start to put my uniform on and he can hear me or see me, he starts getting excited,” Jennings said. “He knows that once he gets in this car, it’s all work.”
Draco has been with Jennings as long as Jennings has been a K-9 officer.
Jennings said he can’t remember a bad shift spent with Draco searching school lockers, backing up patrol officers, conducting street searches, tracking lost people or crime suspects and searching cars for drugs. But one good night, somewhere around 2002, stands out.
“The best one was when we found a 5-year-old that wandered away from his house down on Lucasville,” said Jennings, who patrols the west end of the county with Draco. “We found him down by the river just walking with his dog. He’d been gone for several hours.”
Dogs in K-9 units usually have a career that spans about eight years, Jennings said.
Draco stayed on the job a little while longer because he remained in good health and the county budget precluded the purchase of any new dogs, which can cost as much as $6,500.
Jennings, who spent 12 years on patrol and four years on the vice-narcotics unit, found he enjoyed the night shift and K-9 work once he started with Draco, whose favorite treat is French fries.
“I’ve always had dogs, and I thought I’d give it a try and fell in love with it,” Jennings said of his work on the streets with Draco.
Over the years dogs and handlers come to rely on each other, and Jennings said he could count on Draco’s proficiency in any of his jobs, including tracking suspects and keeping him safe.
“He’s been a good dog,” Jennings said. “He’s very reliable.”
On Monday, Jennings will start 16 weeks of training with Diesel, Draco’s replacement.
“It’ll be just another day with a new dog and trying to wean off of Draco,” the 45-year-old Jennings said. “Hopefully he’ll listen like Draco.”
While Jennings has faith that Diesel will eventually be a good police dog, Draco will always be special.
“He won’t be replaced because he’s my first one. You can’t replace your first one,” Jennings said.