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Fighting through heavy smoke and with flames pouring down from the ceiling, Fort Worth police officers Carson Bell and Lyndsey Stewart rushed into a duplex Tuesday morning, searching for those still inside.
Bell kicked the front door three times before it flew open.
“We never said a word to each other once we got in,” Bell said.
They quickly found a woman, who was near the front door, Stewart said.
“I grabbed her legs and he grabbed her arms and we went out,” Stewart said.
Salem police patrolman Matt Bell’s partner sleeps in the back seat while he does all the driving. But when it is time to go to work, Dizzy, a Dutch shepherd, is out of her backseat kennel and ready to find drugs.
Bell and Dizzy have been partners on the Salem police force for three years. Bell keeps Dizzy well trained, and they often are borrowed by other cities that don’t have police drug dogs.
Dizzy lives with Bell and is a constant in his life. He is responsible for her care, keeping, medical welfare and mental state.
In a single-file line, 30 police recruits marched with strict precision, the sounds of their footsteps echoing throughout a filled gymnasium. Before they would leave, the men and women would officially be members of the Toledo Police Department.
The 28 men and two women of the 58th Toledo Police Academy class were awarded their badges last night in front of more than 100 family members and friends at Owens Community College.
“It’s an extremely proud day for the recruits and our city,” Mayor Mike Bell said. “You are the first line of defense in the city of Toledo. We’re depending on you greatly to protect us.”
Northeast Ohioans who have risked their lives to save others, were honored Tuesday night at the American Red Cross’ 14th annual “Acts of Courage” awards in Akron.
Among those being honored were police officers, firefighters and in one case, the hero has four legs.
Stow Police K-9 Officer Ted Bell says his dog Nero is more his best friend and protector of his family.
Bell says “he’s definitely a partner and I rely on him for so much you know throughout the course of my career.”
Last May, Nero’s courage and training were put to the test when two men robbed a gas station in Stow. One of the employees tried to follow them into the parking lot, and was shot in the stomach.
The robbers fled and were chased by Stow Police into Tallmadge, where the suspects’ car crashed on Tallmadge Circle.
Investigators say one of the men refused to comply with police commands, and when it appeared he might be reaching for a weapon, Nero was sent after the suspect.
Normally, the American Red Cross Acts of Courage Awards go to people.
This year, though, a dog will be recognized, too.
Nero, a Stow police dog who helped capture a suspect in a gas station robbery, will be honored at the 14th annual ceremony scheduled for March 2.
The German Shepherd will be singled out in the new “animal hero” category along with 14 people at the event.
The American Red Cross of Summit and Portage counties annually recognizes residents who have acted courageously in emergencies.
Nero’s handler is Officer Ted Bell, who has worked with Nero, 7, since 2004 — the year his first police dog, Bruno, retired.
“I’m proud to be his handler,” Bell said.
“This should bring some good public relations for what police service dogs do for the citizens they serve,” Bell added.
Bell said Nero “has a strong drive and desire to work. Like all working dogs, they serve selflessly, never ask why, and only want love and praise in return.”
How will Nero celebrate his award?
“He’s just happy to be out and about,” Bell said.
Cezar is a 2-year-old German shepherd, and still playful enough to rise up on his hind legs and lick your face if he — or his handler, Santa Clara police officer Chris Bell — likes you.
If, however, Cezar smells meth on your breath, or, let’s say, you just shot up a convenience store, and are attempting to flee the vicinity, Cezar is not so much with the face licking. Suddenly, he is all about the arm gnawing and the leg chewing.
Cezar’s bark is not worse than his bite.
But as powerful a crimestopper as he is, Cezar’s fur will not stop bullets. And though he’s one of four dogs on the Santa Clara department’s K-9 Unit, only three of the force’s canine cops come equipped with bulletproof vests. The dogs only work on felony crimes — usually to track potentially violent suspects, and occasionally to disable them — so they are almost always in harm’s way.
Cezar and Bell were part of an effort Saturday by Pet Food Express to raise money so that when Bay Area police dogs go into the line of fire, they’re wearing bulletproof vests, just like their human partners.
The company’s 34 stores donated the proceeds from every $15 do-it-yourself-dog-wash token it sold to the Western States Police Canine Association. By the end of the day, nine people had walked into stores and donated the $1,200 that a single vest costs. And even before the stores had closed for the night, more than $34,000 had been raised, according to
Pet Food Express spokesman Mike Murray.The chain has always offered free dog washes to K-9 teams, and last year a smaller fundraising campaign bought eight vests for the San Carlos and Redwood City police departments. “That’s when the light went on that we could do this on a bigger scale and really have an impact,” Murray said.
Cezar was one of two Czech-born German shepherds performing felony vehicle stop demonstrations at the Pet Food Express store in Campbell. “When they don’t want to get out, we help them out of the car,” Bell said. This was a little joke. Another officer had opened the door of his vehicle, stuck out a heavily swaddled arm, and Cezar then repeatedly sank his teeth into the limb, apparently trying to take the arm with him as a souvenir.
At this point, anyone whose cheek Cezar had licked earlier in the day stopped and felt their face, just to make sure it was all still there.
Dogs from the Santa Clara and Oakland police departments, and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, turned the store’s parking lot near the Pruneyard shopping center into Barkfest ’09, as Bell, Sgt. Steve LeCouve of Sacramento and Oakland officer Al Liwanag each tried to prove he had the most “jacked up” dog.
Dozens of people and their dogs came and went during the two-hour demonstration sessions, conducted at midday when only mad dogs and Englishmen should have been gathered on hot asphalt. Many of the dogs were sporting a new ‘do from the store’s spa, and pranced around the butch police dogs without fear. Among the most ferocious specimens were two miniature Maltese, who raced around under the long legs of Kathy Stecco, a surgeon who had come to see how her little lap dogs get along with the Belgian Malinois she wants to add to her brood.
When a police car’s lights went on and the siren started to wail during one demonstration, the hackles went up on all three dogs, and the trio of howls that ensued made it sound as if Jack London had just mushed a sled team into Campbell.
“A lot of places don’t believe they need vests,” said Liwanag, who has seen four police dogs attacked by suspects in the four years he has partnered with Baker, a brown Belgian Malinois. “But we get sent to a lot of robberies where people actually have guns. Our dogs will go to a person and bark, and they’ll keep barking until other officers arrive. That gives the suspect a little bit of distance and allows them to attack the dog.”
Baker is one of a pair of police dogs donated to the Oakland department by a woman whose only request was that they be named after her late husband, a doctor. The other dog, named Doc, retired from the K-9 unit shortly before his partner, Sgt. Daniel Sakai, transferred to the Oakland SWAT team. Sakai was one of four officers gunned down in March attempting to capture parolee Lovelle Mixon.
The K-9 unit was supposed to track Mixon that day, but the order was rescinded when a tip revealed his location. “That puts the dog in as dangerous a position as you’re going to get,” said Liwanag. “Obviously, he’s got no protection.”
Contact Bruce Newman at 408-920-5004.
How to help
If you want to donate to the police dog vest fund, you can do so at any Pet Food Express location today. Or by sending a check or money order to WSPCA “Cover Your K9″ Fund, P.O. Box 620629, Woodside, CA 94062.
Police dog saves the day during chase
When a suspect in an armed robbery refused to show his hands to police officers during the arrest — leaving them unsure of whether he was holding a weapon — they played their wild card.
They called upon Nero, a police K-9 officer. The dog bit suspect Joseph London, 22, in the shoulder, holding him down so officers could make the arrest.
“Nero took him down to the ground,” Stow Police Capt. Rick Myers said. “The K-9 grabbed hold of him and would not let go. After that, he was apprehended.”
London and another suspect, Taylor W. F. Black, 22, were charged in connection with an armed robbery May 1 at 4:20 a.m. at the BP Oil Station on Kent Road and Route 91 in Stow.
The two Akron men were caught after a high-speed car chase which ended with a crash on Tallmadge Circle in Tallmadge.
Although London suffered cuts to his right shoulder that were not life-threatening, he likely owes his life to the German Shepherd.
Otherwise, police may have been forced to shoot the man because he was not cooperating and he potentially threatened the officers’ lives.
“The dog saved the suspect’s life,” Myers said. “He would not reveal his hands. We credit Nero with making the apprehension.”
Nero’s handler is Ted Bell, a 10-year Stow police officer.
Bell has worked with Nero, 6, since 2004 — the year his first police dog, Bruno, retired.
Bell said Nero’s performance was excellent on the night of the robbery.
“He was ready to go to work,” Bell said. “When the overhead lights and sirens are going, he knows something is about to happen.
“He did exactly what is required of him,” he said. “We don’t want our dogs to get shot, but there are times when we have to utilize them to make an apprehension.”
The Stow Police Department has two K-9 officers. The other is Knight, also a German Shepherd, whose handler is police officer Steve Miller.
“Our work dogs are high intensity,” Bell said. “They have high drive. They work to please their handlers. The bond that develops over time is really quite remarkable.
“Working with a police dog is beneficial for me,” Bell said. “They are relentless in their drive to help their handler, so it is quite a unique experience — looking to catch somebody or looking for drugs, whatever it might be.”
Bell said he refers to a police dog as “a force multiplier.” He said he believes one police dog is worth about five officers.
He said while a Taser or pepper spray cannot be called back once it has been used, a police dog can be called back if, for example, a suspect gives up.
“So the dogs are great tools,” he said.
Stow’s K-9 Unit was established in 1994 as a method of assisting traditional police services to the community.
The unit’s main duties are to track and apprehend criminals as well as missing persons, to detect the presence of narcotics, and to provide public demonstrations to increase awareness and understanding of the nature and function of the unit.
Since 2001, the two K-9s have located well over 100 people by tracking them, including suicidal persons, violent subjects and fugitives.
For more information, go to: stow.oh.us/departments/department listing page/police/stow police K-9 unit.
MARION–Donations from the public have met the police department’s goal of $14,000 to purchase and train a new police K-9 and handler and the sheriff’s office received a $5,000 donation toward their K-9 fund.
The police now will replace K-9 Kody, who was put down in December after suffering from cancer. His handler was Ptl. Jamie Ralston.
“It was obvious with the city’s budget being so tight there was no money available to think about purchasing and training another K-9 and handler,” stated Lt. Daryl Burbaugh in a press release. “The decision was made to approach the public for assistance and the response was overwhelming.”
The help of private individuals and some local organizations helped the department meet its goal within weeks rather than months, Burbaugh stated, noting the assistance of Carol Lathrop and Tom Hall for taking the time to volunteer writing letters and campaigning in the community.
The Marion Community Foundation, Tami McNamara as a private resident, a fund-raiser organized by CiCi’s Pizza and the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, and a donation from American Legion Post No. 162 brought in almost $7,200.
More than 80 donors contributed in total, with donations ranging from $4 to more than $2,000.
“Each donation, no matter the amount, was instrumental in helping us reach our goal,” Burbaugh stated.
Local business professionals Don Davis and Bonnie Bell also assisted in the fund-raiser and continue to work with the sheriff’s office K-9 program, Burbaugh stated.
Any additional funds received over the $14,000 goal will be placed in the Law Enforcement Trust Fund and be earmarked for the next needed K-9 or equipment for the unit.
Officers will submit a letter of interest to Police Chief Tom Bell and he will make the selection of the next K-9 handler.
Tuesday the sheriff’s office K-9 unit received a $5,000 donation from Meijer for future costs of a K-9 unit.
Sheriff Tim Bailey said while the office isn’t in need of purchasing a new unit currently, it’s always best to be prepared in case a K-9 becomes injured or ill, such as in the case of the police department.
“We have two good working dogs. Right now we’re not in need of another dog,” Bailey said.
Gunner was a K-9 that retired in the summer of 2008 and currently, Kilo and Sig serve the office. The police use K-9 Silver Bullet.
In addition to Meijer’s donation, American Legion Post No. 584 donated $1,000 in October and Petland and Purina have contributed to the fund in the past. After Tuesday’s donation, the fund has about $14,500, about enough to purchase and train a new dog when it’s needed.
Store Director Mike Stewart said the funds were allocated from the area stores in the Toledo market. Meijer regularly donates to causes that need money, he said, and has contributed before to the police K-9 fund.
“We know how important this is to the community,” he said.
State Police will have a more visible presence on the roads of St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington and St. Helena parishes as 10 new troopers take to the highways that cross the north shore.
The troopers, assigned to Troop L in Mandeville, are among 74 new recruits who will patrol roads across the state after graduating from the State Police Training Academy on Friday.
“We have never had this type of manpower,” said Capt. Oleander Smith, commander of Troop L. “We’re truly lucky. Our local legislators have been good to us.”
Troop L, with the support of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office and other local agencies, has been pushing for more troopers since the north shore population swelled in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Studies done in the aftermath of the storm showed, based on population and the number of miles traveled by motorists, Troop L’s 50 troopers were covering an area that needed about 70 units on the road, Smith said.
When staffing was thin troopers were forced to be reactive, rushing from one accident scene to another with the assistance of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Smith said. As the troop has grown, these troopers have been able to step up their presence on the highways to potentially deter those who would speed or drive unsafely, he said.
The new recruits, combined with others who joined over the past year, have swelled Troop L’s ranks to 67 troopers, Smith said. By putting more troopers on the road, particularly in trouble spots, Smith said he hopes to cut down on accidents, drunken driving and speeding. “People got to the point where they didn’t see us and they did their own thing,” Smith said. “Now we’ve got to get people back into the groove and realize the speed limit is not 80, it’s 70.”
The money for the new troopers was included in this year’s budget.
The new recruits will spend at least 45 days training with veteran troopers before being sent out on patrol alone, Smith said.
The new troopers are: Kevin M. Barnes Jr., Jeremiah V. Bell, Brett M. Dupre, Matthew S. Graham, Denis J. Indest III, Marlena A. Lee, Jeremy J. Price, Eric K. Thaxton, Ernest C. Wilkes and Nicholas Yatcilla.
The decision by state police to pursue an 11-year-old boy at speeds up to 85 miles per hour Sunday was a bad one, experts say.
State troopers from Washington County heard an announcement over their radios that evening that the boy had taken his foster mother’s Toyota Camry station wagon in North Strabane and very well might be headed to his parents’ home in Cokeburg.
He was just a few miles from there when Trooper Brian Bell spotted the car on State Route 917 in Bentleyville at 9:15 p.m. He tried to stop the car, but the boy fled, and Trooper Bell began the chase.
The boy got onto Interstate 70 and traveled eight to 10 miles, hitting speeds of 80 to 85 mph. When he exited onto State Route 519, he struck another trooper’s vehicle.
Then Trooper Bell rammed the boy’s car, spinning it into a utility pole. The juvenile tried to run, but was quickly caught.
He’s been charged with a slew of counts, including aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a criminal justice professor at the University of South Carolina and an expert on police pursuit policies.
When told the details of the chase, he said, “That’s just absolutely ridiculous.
“Eleven years old — I don’t know how he sees over the steering wheel,” Mr. Alpert said. “Should he be chased? I don’t think so.”
Because police knew the identity of the boy — and where he was headed — they could just as easily have arrested him later.
“You can just go home and pick him up in a few hours,” Mr. Alpert said. “An 11-year-old, you could probably assume he’s going to go home at some point.”
That factor — “whether the operator can be identified for later prosecution” — is one that is used by state police to determine if a chase should be continued, said state police spokesman Jack J. Lewis.
Other considerations, he said, include the amount of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and weather and roadway conditions.
State police policy gives troopers discretion to initiate a pursuit of a fleeing motorist, Mr. Lewis said. They must, however, immediately notify their station and a supervisor.
He could not comment on the specifics of the Sunday night incident.
Trooper Joseph Christy, a spokesman for the Washington barracks, did not return a phone call seeking comment. It is not known if there is any internal review of the chase being conducted.
Mr. Alpert, who has been researching police pursuits since the 1980s, said the troopers should have recognized that an 11-year-old would not make good decisions under such stressful circumstances.
“He was the one who was wrong in this,” he said. “But police officers should be trained to realize these people don’t have any rules.
“It’s going to end up as a disaster in most cases.”
Whether Trooper Bell should have rammed the boy’s car, Mr. Alpert said, depends on whether the suspect hit the other trooper’s car purposefully.
“If it was an intentional ram, then the stakes are raised, and it’s no holds barred,” he said.
The maneuver used by Trooper Bell is something that should only be done at speeds of 40 mph or less, Mr. Alpert said. It is not known how fast the pursuit was moving at the time.
Most progressive police departments do not ram, he added.
Police pursuits should be reserved for violent criminals, Mr. Alpert said, and not be used for traffic stops or minor violations.
Professor Dennis Kenney, at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, agreed.
“The whole idea behind pursuit is to catch a dangerous person,” he said.
If the state police policy permitted such a chase, Mr. Kenney called it “bad policy.”
“In this case, the crime committed by the kid would not support the added risk to the public.
“Obviously, the better decision would have been to just follow him to [his parents' home],” Mr. Kenney said.
But discontinuing a chase is hard for an officer, Mr. Alpert said.
“On the face of it, you’re letting the bad guy go, and that’s contrary to the entire reason why people become police officers.”