Something stinks in Atlantic City, and it ain’t the buffet at the Trop.
In a very unusual move, the mayor of the city pulled the police department’s k-9 unit.
From the Press of Atlantic City:
The Langford administration ordered major changes to the city’s Police Department on Monday that could save city money, quell resident complaints and, at the same time, possibly put the public’s safety at risk.
Business Administrator Michael Scott ordered Police Chief John J. Mooney to indefinitely cease the use of police canines and prohibit officers, along with other resort officials, from bringing their city-issued vehicles home.
Chief Mooney wasted no time responding to the order and criticizing Mayor Langford.
Also from the Press:
“The Police Department is being targeted by the administration,” Mooney said. “I think it’s political in nature and clearly directed at me.” He said Monday he plans to sue the city, claiming the mayor does not have the authority to interfere with the department’s daily operation.”
This is an extremely troubling situation.
Police dogs are used to aid and protect police officers; they are not pawns on the pissing match chessboard.
Police dogs are often sent into situations so we don’t have to send risk a human officer. Pulling a K-9 unit exposes line officers to more dangers.
In the same article, Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Mayor Langford, is quoted as saying that the dogs’ reactions during apprehensions have been resulting in daily complaints to the Mayor’s Office
Daily complaints, huh? Why does this just not ring true? “Daily” just sounds a bit much.
If there have been daily complaints, were they forwarded to the internal affairs section of the Atlantic City Police Department? If the complaints were potentially criminal, was the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office notified? And there should be records of both?
We can all agree that it is the mayor who runs a town, not the police department or the police chief. The mayor is who the people elected.
However, there must be and are limitations as to how far a mayor or any elected official can delve into the running of a police department.
Mayors can reduce funding, make inquiries, and even pull the take-home cars. However, they cannot answer calls, run investigations or green-light snipers.
Everyone needs to be monitoring was goes on here closely.
And, hopefully, this is on the radar for the New Jersey Police Chiefs Association.
They come from the other side of the world to protect and serve our community. They train nearly every day to keep their skills sharp. They regularly confront danger, and their dedication never waivers.
And it’s all a game to them.
They are the K9s of the Elkhart Police Department, and the K9 unit will soon be at full strength again. The K9 unit had recently suffered a blow when one of the dogs, Esokt, developed cataracts in both eyes, leaving the police department with no dog on the day shift.
But the burden was short-lived as donations from city residents and companies flowed into the police department, covering the cost of replacing Esokt, who now lives with his longtime handler, Cpl. Andy Rucker, and his family. Within days, the police department had enough money to get Jeb, the rookie who will make his debut on Elkhart streets with Cpl. Ken Wade in a few weeks.
“I was pleasantly surprised when the donations came in,” said Sgt. Chris Snyder, who supervises the department’s K9 unit. “It’s nice to get so much support from the community. I didn’t know how long it would take for us to get a new one.”
And it might have been a while, because without the donations, the police department had no budget to purchase another dog. Now, extra cash donated for the purpose of replacing Esokt has been placed in a K9 fund and will only be used for future K9 expenses.
Master trainer Bill Faus, of Faus K-9 Specialties in Elkhart and where the police department and other local agencies get and train their K9s, said a dog typically costs a department around $11,500. That covers the purchase of the dog, travel expenses, customs fees, initial veterinarian costs and training class at Faus K-9 Specialties. Faus, one of about 45 master trainers in the United States, started his company in 1996 and sells, trains and recertifies dogs that serve in police departments across the country.
The dogs come from Europe, where Faus travels to personally handpick the best of the German Shepherds. In Europe, Faus said, the breeding practices are much more stringent — and in some countries, government controlled — and disorders, like hip displaysia, are rare with the purebred dogs in Europe.
Faus looks for dogs from about 1 to 3 years old that are “absolutely ball-crazy.”
“I want a dog that will do anything to get a ball,” Faus said. “I want dogs that won’t stop looking for the ball.”
So work for a K9 dog really is all fun and games, whether it’s sniffing out narcotics or explosives, chasing down a fleeing suspect or searching for a lost child. It’s rules: what to do, what not to do and when to do certain actions.
And those rules can never be compromised, Snyder said, who handles a K9 dog, Xantos.
“Discipline is the foundation of everything we do,” Snyder said.
That is essential, especially when it comes to bites, he said. If the handler orders the dog to chase and apprehend someone — which require specific circumstances — the dog is trained to bite and hold, Snyder said. The dog will only bite more than once if it’s knocked off the first bite for some reason, he said, and the dog will release the bite on command when a threat no longer exists. Police would then take the suspect to the hospital for treatment before incarceration.
And as long as you’re not a fleeing suspect or someone trying to hurt a police officer, the dogs are perfectly safe and friendly. Xantos, for example, lives with Snyder and his family.
These dogs are instrumental to officer safety in many situations, but they’re more than simple tools to pull out and use, Snyder said. For example, injuring a police dog is just like battering a police officer, he said.
“The dogs are an extension of us. These police animals have certain rights also,” Snyder said.
A K9′S JOURNEY
* Master trainer Bill Faus of Faus K-9 Specialties in Elkhart travels to Europe to find “ball-crazy” German Shepherds between 1 and 3 years old in good health.
Faus says German Shepherds are consistently the most loyal dogs and they usually have a longer lifespan than other breeds.
Faus is looking for a dog that has a good hunting drive, a good defense drive and a confidence that Faus describes as “strutting around.”
* The dog is shipped overseas and then is taken to Faus’s company at 52677 C.R. 11.
* Faus and Master training Sgt. Mike McHenry of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department begin training basic obedience to the dog.
* Law enforcement agencies in the market for a new police dog send the handler to meet with Faus.
* Based upon meeting the handler, Faus will recommend two or three dogs to the handler. Faus says he tries to make suggestions that will match a dog’s style with that of the handler.
* Ultimately, the handler can choose which of the dogs he wants.
* For the first couple of days, the handler is to just play with the dog — throwing a ball, taking care of the dog and just building a relationship.
* Then a 5-week training course begins, with the focus on the handler teaching the dog so that the dog develops a loyalty to his handler.
* At the Elkhart Police Department, the K9 unit frequently conducts group training but encourages every officer with a dog to train at least a few minutes every day.
* At the end of their careers, police dogs generally retire and live with their handlers.
WHAT K9S DO
* Narcotics search: The dogs’ noses are extremely sensitive and they can detect minimal amounts of any drug, even if it’s sealed in a plastic bag and hidden. K9s will usually just sit in front of where they smell the drug.
* Explosives detection: Much like a narcotics search, these animals can smell components of just about any kind of bomb. In this area, dogs have been used when President Barack Obama visited.
* Tracking: K9s can be used not only to track a suspect, but also to track a lost child or an elderly person.
* Building searches: Police dogs can go into a building or areas of a building to make sure it is clear and safe before a police officer enters. They can also get into areas, like crawl spaces, which an officer may not be able to safely access.
* Crowd control: K9s are often run through large crowds such as the festivals during the summer.
* Article search: K9s can usually find items that may have been discarded by a suspect when they noticed police in the area.
* Apprehensions/Biting: Dogs will chase and bite a fleeing suspect under a command given only under specific circumstances. A dog will also defend its handler if the handler’s safety is directly threatened.
While the K9 unit averages thousands of dog usages every year, there are only about eight bites each year, Elkhart Sgt. Chris Snyder said. Most of the time, the mere presence of the dog or threat of using the dog is enough for a suspect to comply with officers.
The Town of New Berlin Police Department will soon be adding a K-9 drug searching unit to its ranks. One of its officers decided to shoulder the cost of purchasing and training the purebred German Shepherd pup out of his own pocket.
Corporal Robert L. Jones is a three-year, part-time veteran of the New Berlin and Owego Police Departments and almost everywhere he goes, he is now followed by a 15-week-old Schutzhund German Shepherd named Bruno.
In just under 12 months, Bruno and Jones are scheduled to complete the required training for a Certified New York State Drug Detection K-9 dog at the Southern Tier K-9 Association’s facility in Binghamton.
Jones has dedicated his own free time and money to the project that will provide both departments he works for with a designated K-9 unit. Already Jones has spent over $2,000 in acquiring the animal and for its medical care.
“Why am I doing this? We need it, we just plain need it. It’ll make our job of local drug enforcement much easier here (in New Berlin) in the long run. We have serious drug problems in the local community and a dog can make a huge difference, not just here but in both New Berlin and Owego,” said Jones.
The two will travel to Binghamton to start the official training in about eight weeks when Bruno has matured more, but already Jones, who has prior K-9 training experience, has begun to condition the puppy to the basics of its future occupation. The puppy can already obey several commands, including sit and stay.
“I can’t begin to explain the value of having our own K-9 unit in the New Berlin PD. They’re worth their weight in gold,” said New Berlin’s acting officer in charge, Dominick Commessol.
Commessol said he and Jones had been “batting around” the idea of getting a police dog for the department for nearly three years.
Metro Atlanta pastors are partnering with police to fight a recent spike in violent crime.
Reverend Timothy McDonald pastors the 1st Iconium Baptist and implored his congregation to keep alert.
“Every community needs a nosy neighbor,” McDonald preached on Sunday. “Somebody looking at people out the window or sitting on the front porch.”
McDonald says his message is to get into neighborhoods and help.
“I don’t know how far this is going to go, I don’t know where this is going to go,” he says. “I’m willing to sit down because we’ve got to do something.”
Two recent killings are still unsolved: an 80 year old grandmother killed in her laundromat and a 19 year old Spellman College coed shot dead on the grounds of Clark-Atlanta University.
McDonald told his congregation the CAU killing is particularly shocking.
“On a college campus none of us are safe,” he says. “And so we’ve got to get outside of these four walls and do the neighborhood watch.”