A charity fundraiser is scheduled to help the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department take a bite out of its expenses for its K-9 officers.
A Rockin’ Bowl benefit will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight, Friday at Meadow Lanes Bowling Alley, 2111 N. A. with all proceeds to go to the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit.
Entirely funded by donations from the public, the K-9 program started more than 10 years ago with the help of Deputy Roger Church, who became the department’s first K-9 officer.
Training starts with certification from the Kansas Highway Patrol and once the dogs are deemed worthy to enter the field, training doesn’t stop with time taken out of officers’ days to keep the dogs up to snuff on the latest techniques and training. K-9 officers currently received once-a-week training at the Sheriff’s Department.
Over the entire lifespan of the dog, costs could be up to $10,000 for each officer and training.
“They are expensive, but it’s an important job they do,” Capt. Mike Yoder said.
Having K-9 officers has made a difference on patrol, he said.
“A lot of times these guys are out by themselves and just the presence of a dog can sometimes stop something from happening,” Yoder said.
K-9s have been able to find evidence with their keen sense of smell and have been used when looking for suspects or the missing.
“Their nose is a thousand times better than ours and they can pick up odors we don’t even think about,” Church said.
The dogs are treated just like any other officer, including their work schedule.
“The dogs go with them everyday, so they are used everyday,” Yoder said.
K-9 officers are trained for patrol and for drug detection, making them valuable partners in fighting crime. K-9s can be sent into situations that could cost human lives with the advantage of knowing the job will get done right.
“As a human we know fear, but the dog doesn’t know fear. When we send him after somebody, he doesn’t understand the thought of fear, he’s going to do his job and that’s what he’s trained to do. A K-9 is nothing more than another tool on our belt,” Church said.
Though K-9s have jobs to do, the relationship between handler and dog is more than just work.
“For me it’s very important as an officer, because you get really attached to them and it’s like he’s 100 percent your partner. He’s dedicated to you, you’re dedicated to him and it’s 100 percent partners,” Church said.
Organizers are hoping the bowling event will bring in money to keep the program going steadily for years to come and will help with the purchase of a new dog.
Dogs are retired once they can’t physically handle the work anymore.
The department is looking to retire one of its K-9 officers, Ranger, who is partnered with Church.
The department is already looking into getting another replacement for the aging Ranger.
“We’ve been really fortunate in the past with vets and Wal-mart donating food and services…they help out quite a bit with that,” Yoder said. “The dogs are just like anything or anyone else…they require constant attention and constant care. And that’s one thing with the handlers … the dogs go home with them, they are part of their family, they intermingle with them 24/7.”
Funding started with door-to-door donations, with every dime coming from the public.
“The taxpayers pay absolutely no money for these dogs. Everything we do, including vet bills, food, training, everything is 100 percent donated,” Church said.
By Theresa Lee
A 4-foot-tall statue of a German shepherd holds court in a secluded spot behind the township Municipal Complex. Nearby, four wooden plaques bear the names of the Galloway Township Police Department’s four K-9s: Sabre, Zito, Chase and Blaze.
Township resident Angeline Pebler donated the statue, and she and the township’s K-9 officers tend a surrounding garden, which overlooks Patriot’s Lake.
The winding trail that slopes up from the lake and passes the garden is popular among area residents walking their own dogs. The spot allows the K-9s to relax and play catch during downtime at the police station.
“It’s a monument to honor the courageous policemen as much as the dogs,” Pebler said. “It’s a reminder of all the training they go through, their dedication and the important work they do to serve and protect the residents of Galloway Township.”
Sabre is a German shepherd who lives with his partner and caretaker, K-9 Officer Kevin Welsh, in Galloway Township. There are two other dogs in the house, but Sabre is the only one with a job.
Sabre loves to play catch and run like any dog. But when he hears Welsh utter the word “work,” his ears straighten up and he looks about ready to jump out of his skin. If the police dog is playing with a ball, it is quickly dropped to the floor and all but forgotten as he stands to attention, awaiting his next command.
“He loves his work,” said Welsh, teasing the dog by dropping the word often in conversation. “On our days off, he keeps looking at the door, waiting for me to put on my uniform so we can go work.”
Welsh says Sabre, who is cross-trained for tracking and drug sniffing, transitions smoothly from a loving, playful dog at home to an alert, dependable partner at work. The officer, engaged to be married, says he would never worry about the large workdog being around children.
“If anything, he’d be more protective,” Welsh said. “He’s great with kids. I take him to DARE events and the kids (listen to me) talking about drugs and alcohol, but Sabre is the main draw. He’s very gentle with them, and they remember him. He makes a bigger impact on them than I do, I think.”
Sabre made such an impression on the students at Reeds Road Elementary School that they raised $2,000 to buy him a bulletproof vest. Aiden Doyle, the son of Galloway Township Police Sergeant Christopher Doyle, gave his entire allowance of $10.
The dog associates Welsh’s uniform and his police cruiser with serious business but waits for specific commands from his handler before launching into attack mode.
Welsh and Sabre are working overtime these days. The four Galloway Township police dogs are helping out in Atlantic City to compensate for the 19 K-9s who have been taken off the streets while Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford investigates claims of misuse of the dogs there.
Welsh says he and his fellow officers enjoy the extra work, which allows them to connect with a different community and keep the dogs in practice. The downside is longer response times. Welsh estimates a K-9 unit dispatched from Galloway Township – if immediately available – takes about 20 minutes to reach Atlantic City. That’s about four times as long as it would take an Atlantic City K-9 unit to get there.
Police dogs respond to 911 hangups – calls that are interrupted or intercepted before sufficient information can be obtained to determine the emergency. They track children. They also search for missing individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But Welsh says about 50 percent to 60 percent of the calls are drug-related.
To those who know Pebler, her donation to and continued support of the K-9 unit at Galloway Township Police Department is no surprise. She has been a loud proponent of K-9s for some time. She gives the dogs presents on Christmas, as well as throughout the year. She plays catch with them in the garden behind the Municipal Complex.
For now, the garden is a place to enjoy the view, play with dogs and reflect on their service to the township. One woman told Pebler she walks in the garden every day, offering a prayer for her deceased family and dogs.
By Felicia Compian
S.W.A.T. Magazine TV will begin airing its weekly show January 2010, on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. (EST) on the Outdoor Channel.
The show will mirror the same integrity, professionalism and thorough insight that S.W.A.T. Magazine (www.SWATmag.com) has published for more than 25 years, under meticulous oversight of Editor Denny Hansen.
Rob Pincus, staff S.W.A.T. Magazine writer since 2001 and host of S.W.A.T. Magazine TV, said, “S.W.A.T. Magazine is a trusted and respected magazine, which provides its readers with valuable information on the latest weapons and tactical training techniques.
It was only natural for S.W.A.T. Magazine’s next development to become a TV show. Our goal with the show is to provide the same quality information that we provide in the magazine, but delve further into topics that our readers want to see. We have many great guests that will be appearing, and, they’ll discuss a myriad of topics from what their roles are in providing safety and security to the importance of using realistic targets.”
S.W.A.T. Magazine TV guests include S.W.A.T. Magazine staff writers, instructors, industry representatives and people who are interested in developing their firearms knowledge and tactical skills.
Featured guests include Louis Awerbuck, Tony Blauer, Travis Haley, James Yeager and other instructors currently active in the military and law enforcement professions. Special segments will offer a unique look at the special teams and components of law enforcement, private security and the military world.
Other segments include a feature with S.W.A.T. Magazine columnist Brent Wheat, where he’ll discuss issues that affect everyone interested in personal safety, as well as instructor and team profiles.
In a town where football players are treated like Hollywood stars, police are holding their own workshops with the actors.
Before they hit bigger stages.
Officers in Columbus, home of the lionized Ohio State Buckeyes, are visiting high schools to teach the next generation of gridiron greats that they are not invincible. Re-enacting scenarios gleaned from the streets, they share tips on how athletes should conduct themselves during encounters with the law.
The basic theme? Don’t believe your social status entitles you to a free pass no matter what you do — or your friends do.
“If you are a football player, why are you riding around with a guy with a bag of weed in his pocket and no driver’s license?” asked Lt. Donald Cade, who helped develop the program last summer.
In high school, athletes are the ones who get the girls, the popularity, the near-royalty status in the cafeteria line. That’s why they’re also most likely to think they’re above the law, police say.
An inflated self-image can lead to downfall on an epic scale, as any fan of professional sports can attest. If a Buckeyes football player commits even a minor offense, it’s big news in Columbus. These officers want to reach out to prep athletes now — “before anything is at stake,” Cade says — to prepare them for the pressures to come.
They know the world of which they speak. Officer Tony Lowery, who coaches high school football, was a quarterback at the University of Wisconsin nearly 20 years ago. He sees glimmers of the “I’m-a-celebrity” attitude in his own players.
“They don’t ask for it,” he said. “They just get it.”
Some of the tips are obvious, yet worth emphasizing to young drivers, police say:
– When you see flashing red lights in your rearview mirror, pull over right away.
– Getting pulled over doesn’t mean you’re going to jail.
– It’s OK to be nervous.
“You know what, fellas? I’m almost 40 years old,” Lowery said to a roomful of football players. “When I get pulled over, I’m nervous.”
The first performance debuted at Walnut Ridge High School in late June. The football coach, Byron Mattox, said he recognizes his players are under a bigger microscope than “the average Joe.”
“For the most part I got really good guys,” Mattox said. “But you don’t want them to make that little mistake — that one-time mistake that can cost them for the rest of their life.”
The most common blunder, police say, is provoking a confrontation with an officer. The scenario played out on stage as two officers on bicycles approached a group of teenagers standing on a street corner. While two of them followed the officers’ orders and dropped to the ground immediately, one teen had to be restrained and was arrested for obstructing official conduct.
“You are going to have interactions with police,” said Sgt. Jim Gilbert. “There’s no way around it. You’re going to be in the wrong place at the wrong me.”
The importance of cooperation was a recurring motif throughout the program. The next scene — a traffic stop — wrought a long list of do’s and don’ts.
Do pull over. Don’t leave your ignition running. Don’t mouth off. And while it’s fine to tell the officer that you’re nervous, try not to be jumpy.
“Let’s keep it real,” Lowery told the players. “The sudden movements? Don’t do that. That makes us nervous.”
Afterward, 15-year-old Devon Bingham said the scenarios reminded him of confrontations he had witnessed in his neighborhood, but had not been entangled in himself.
“I’m going to be a new driver,” he said.
For Gilbert, head of the police union, the seminars also offer a chance to build relationships with local youngsters. As in many cities across the U.S., Columbus police are forever struggling to win the allegiances of inner-city youths, who can be vital sources of information during crime investigations.
“It’s a perception issue that we’re trying to correct,” Gilbert said. “We are the good guys.”
Throughout the summer and autumn, the show has garnered praise from schools and city officials. More performances are in the works, and police are expanding audiences to include non-athletes.
“I can’t find fault with a program that tries to create a dialogue between high school athletes and police,” said Dan Lebowitz, executive director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University. “But it’s about how that dialogue is created — and how open both sides are to hearing it.”
Lebowitz, who has not heard of similar efforts elsewhere, cautioned that police should teach the athletes in a way that’s not condescending.
“Conflict can get escalated on both sides of the equation,” he said.
The first show closed with a speech that was part metaphor, part challenge.
“The world is made up of three categories of people. You’re either a sheep, a wolf, or a guard dog,” Detective Larry Wilson declared. “It’s funny how one guard dog can make three wolves run.”
He paused and looked out at the young faces in the crowd.
“The fact that you’re playing football right now tells me that you’re probably not a sheep. So which one are you?” he asked. “You can’t be both.”