Thousands of children interacted with local peace officers during the 16th annual Cops ‘N’ Kids Field Day on Sunday.
Seventeen county and state law enforcement agencies participated in the event, held at Soto Sports Complex in Arroyo Grande.
Each agency presented exhibits that ranged from K-9 and bomb-squad robot demonstrations to the California Highway Patrol helicopter fly-in and landing on the field.
Children who attended the event received free T-shirts, hot dogs, cotton candy and refreshments. Their names also were entered into a drawing for new bicycles and helmets.
The event is hosted by the California Central Coast Chapter 73 of the International Footprint Association.
The phrase “man’s best friend” carries a lot of weight for La Vista K-9 Officer John York. That’s because it refers to his partner, Leda, a Belgian Malinois.
About three and a half years ago, the La Vista Police Department added a K-9 officer position to the force. York applied immediately.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I’ve been in law enforcement,” said York, who has worked in law enforcement for a total of 16 years.
The department then purchased Leda, and introduced York to his new K-9 partner. She was green at first, with little police experience, so the two went straight to work training.
After an initial 16-week training period, they now spend eight hours each week devoted to training.
“These dogs, even though we train them up initially, are just constantly wanting to go back to being a dog,” York said, “and we’re just constantly wanting them to be police officers.”
But the work pays dividends to the La Vista Police Department, York said. Leda is double certified as both a narcotics and a patrol dog. On the narcotics end of her job, she can sniff out vehicles, residences and businesses for major drugs such as methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine and heroin. On the patrol side, she can search businesses when an alarm goes off, track and apprehend criminals, help to find someone who is lost or even help to recover evidence.
He said a dog works much more efficiently in many situations police have to deal with and often keeps officers out of harm’s way.
“The rewards are tremendous,” he said.
Last month, York and Leda participated in the Nebraska K-9 Championships, held by the Nebraska State Patrol at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island. Twenty-one teams from across Nebraska and two from neighboring states competed in 12 events.
York said the best part was getting to learn how other K-9 officers handled their dogs.
“It was just a great opportunity for me to rub elbows with some of the great handlers in this state,” he said.
York and Leda brought two medals back to La Vista, including a gold medal in the High-Risk Building Search event, which tested the duo’s building search skills. The other medal was a bronze in the Critical Skills event, which tests dog obedience, including its ability to stay obedient during gunfire and to defend its handler.
York said he was pleased with the gold medal because building searches are something the partners do most often on the job.
When not on duty, Leda stays with her handler and, York said, acts like an average dog.
BY Trenton Albers
The city’s newest officer has biting abilities, four legs and a tail.
But don’t let that fool you – Vice, a 20-month-old German Shepherd, is not a warm and cuddly puppy.
The four-legged furry officer arrived Oct. 20 and immediately began training locally with his human partner so that they can work together.
Vice is being put through his paces with his handler, Nanticoke police officer Brian Kivler, to learn to detect illegal drugs, track a lost person, search properties and do routine patrol work.
The dog’s status in the police department is no tall tale, either. He is a full-time officer, with his own badge — number 9072-1/2 . If anyone attempts to harm or kill Vice, they can be prosecuted on a felony charge, Kivler said.
City and school district officials hope Vice will deter drug dealers from entering town and discourage residents from using or purchasing illegal substances.
The Greater Nanticoke Area School District paid $5,500 to purchase the dog for the department, with the understanding that the dog will be brought onto campuses to do occasional locker searches.
The Nanticoke Housing Authority gave the district a $500 check as a contribution toward the K9 unit’s cost, interim executive director and board member Jean Ditzler said. The city is covering Vice’s food costs.
GNA Superintendent Tony Perrone said the district and the police department have a great working relationship and he believes Vice could just be an added deterrent to students thinking about bringing drugs on campus.
“Every school and every community has a need for something like that. … We are going to make sure he is present here at least once a week. Kids will not know when he is coming and we will hopefully be able to keep drugs out of the school,” he said.
Vice and Kivler will not patrol the schools alone. A district or school administrator will accompany the duo. If Vice alerts to a particular area noting drugs might be present, the school official will be able to open lockers so officers can search for any narcotics.
Perrone said he also thinks it’s important for the younger students to be exposed to Vice, adding that he will be serving the community for up to 10 years.
But the department is going to wait until training is fully completed, which might take about two months, before deciding on whether to expose Vice to the district’s younger students, Nanticoke Detective Bill Shultz said.
Kivler said he anticipates that after training Vice could perform demonstrations for the younger students.
He and Shultz emphasize Vice is not being trained to act as a therapy dog, but rather to protect Kivler and track drugs and missing people. The officers want people to know that when they see Vice they should not run up to pet or try to play with him because Vice could interpret that as a threat.
Nanticoke Mayor John Bushko said that Vice, with his superior sense of smell, will be a vital part of police drug busts.
“I think the dog is a big asset. He’ll sniff it out in a minute. It will help make the cops’ job much easier,” Bushko said.
Also, with Nanticoke’s large population of older adults, with three nursing homes inside the city limits, Vice’s ability to track a lost person will come in handy if someone with Alzheimer’s wanders away and becomes lost.
By Sherry Long
In September, Local News 8 introduced you to the newest member of the Chubbuck police force. At just three years old, he’s gained quite a bit of knowledge and continues to work taking bites out of crime. The Chubbuck Police Department was able to buy their newest member thanks to drug seizure money.
Chubbuck Police K-9 Officer Shane Call is in his seventh week training Marco. It’s part of a nine week course to get Marco ready to respond to calls and also to save time and money.
“It saves the officer a tremendous amount of time to call a k9 officer out, bring his dog around the vehicle and do a K-9 sniff. Saves ton of man hours so they don’t have to pick it apart by hand,” said Call.
Bannock County Sheriff’s Deputy and K-9 handler Clint Brown is in charge of working with two K-9s to get them ready to get on the road. Brown says training police K-9s is a complicated task.
“When we deploy our dogs on the street, we want the dogs to be reliable and certified and this is the best way we’ve found to do it,” said Brown.
K-9s can be used in a variety of situations so dogs are available when officers need them.
“Other officers and other agencies can call on us for assistance with the dogs. But it also depends on how much the individual officer, the handler of that dog, wants to utilize the dog. I use my dog quite often with drug cases and traffic stops,” said Brown.
During training Marco worked on finding suspects using sent. Once he found the suspect, he told Officer Call by barking. When the suspect took off, Marco is training to run and when told he stops and waits.
“I’ve noticed a tremendous difference with me and Marco. Progression from just the stuff that the course is required to have you certified and I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in Marco especially,” said Call.
K9 officers like Officer Call have their dogs with them a majority of the time so it creates a unique bond between the two of them.
“The dogs are generally with you more than family because the dogs go home with you and then also go to work with you. And often times in critical situations where the dog may come into play to assist you or to even save your life, there is a tremendous bond that can be created as well,” said Brown.
This K9 training course will wrap up in about two weeks. Then it’s up to the officers to certify their dogs before getting them on the streets.
By Genevieve Judge
An Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper was recognized Friday morning for his dedication to driving safely.
Trp. Scott Wolford of the Marion post was on his way to work in June when a car made a lefthand turn in front of the motorcycle he was driving.
The vehicles collided, but Wolford, who was wearing his helmet, received minor injuries.
Friday, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety Cathy Collins-Taylor awarded him with the Saved by the Helmet Award. While any state resident could receive the award after being involved in a crash, Wolford’s example was exemplary of a state trooper.
He thanked other patrol staff for their support, and his wife Carrie. His accident occurred on their one-month wedding anniversary.
Patrol Capt. Kevin Teaford, interim superintendent and several Marion post staffers also were at the award presentation.