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Three state troopers received awards for their efforts and quick action in the confrontation of a 21-year-old man who fatally shot his infant son on June 22, then turned his gun on officials.
Sgt. Thomas Haumann, Trooper Carlo Gennario and Trooper Richard Snyder were awarded at the 35th annual ceremony honoring heroism, investigative persistence, education, safety and community service, police said.
The award stems from their acts when Adam Theall, of Blossvale, shot his infant son with a shotgun and then leveled the shotgun at Trooper Gennario and ignored all commands to drop his weapon, police said.
Gennario fired his pistol at Theall while seeking cover behind his patrol car.
A police officer who doubles as an Army captain and a dog from the Czech Republic are likely to team up as the latest K-9 Unit at the Collierville Police Department.
Officer Matthew Bialy is the department’s new canine handler.
A dog named Leno, like the television talk show host, is auditioning to become the officer’s four-legged partner.
Bialy, 36, is an imposing 6-foot-2. Leno is less so at 58 tan-and-black pounds.
As a Belgian Malinois, the dog is a popular breed with police and the military, said Lt. Jeff Dwyer, who oversees the unit.
“They are agile, not as big as a German shepherd, but they have an intense drive… a lot of focus and are very trainable dogs,” Dwyer said.
Bialy, a native of New Jersey who once ran a medical supply company, said he’s been in the Army about 15 years. He is currently assigned to the Arkansas National Guard.
He joined the Collierville police force in 2005, after returning from a combat tour as a lieutenant and infantry platoon leader in Iraq.
Collierville was home to his wife’s parents. He and Kristin have a 19-month-old son.
In 2008, he returned to a less violent Iraq for a tour as a captain and company commander.
“The second time was a lot better than the first,” he said.
Since childhood, Bialy said he’s had two Bullmastiffs, a black Labrador and currently a German shepherd named Taz.
“I’ve always grown up with dogs,” he said, and wanted the opportunity to team up with one on the job.
Born and raised most of his 18 months in Europe, Leno stood out among eight dogs put through their paces at Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind., Dwyer and Bialy said. The dog cost $7,000.
A final hurdle for Leno before he nails the job will be getting a clean bill of health from a specialist veterinarian.
Bialy boards the police dog at his home. He and his canine partner will head for additional training at the Southaven Police Department.
Narcotics detection will be their main focus, Bialy said.
Collierville has been without a K-9 Unit since September 2008, when the previous canine handler, Robin Snyder, resigned. The police dog Yahn had reached retirement age and left with Snyder.
BY Kevin McKenzie
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.
A Pennsylvania State Trooper is being hailed a hero after delivering a baby on the side of Interstate-95 near the airport exit.
Trooper Peter Burghart was patrolling the area Saturday when he saw a SUV speeding down the highway. The vehicle initially failed to stop but eventually pulled over to the berm in the area near the airport exit.
The driver explained to Trooper Burghart he was on the way to the University of Pennsylvania because his wife was in labor.
“I felt like I was in a bad dream,” recalls mother Tricia Snyder.
“Probably your worst nightmare,” agrees husband Matt. “Driving to the hospital, not being able to get there because you’re thinking the worst.”
Additional units arrived on the scene. But baby Elizabeth Tricia Synder couldn’t wait for paramedics. She was delivered in the front seat of her parents’ SUV by Trooper Jean Altomari.
“Mrs. Snyder was really calm. I asked her if she was ready to push. She said ‘she was.’ She pushed and Elizabeth was born,” smiles Trooper Altomari. “Probably the best feeling I’ve ever had. That was amazing.”
“This situation is a reversal,” Trooper Burghart tells Fox 29. “You’re dealing with people where they still have anxiety and they’re anxious for what’s going on, but it’s to welcome a new child into the world.”
“It was nice not to have to do that on our own because we were gonna be having her in the car no matter what so it was definitely nice to have their help,” says Snyder.
This is the family’s second child. When they had their first daughter, they had just made it to the hospital.
The mother and baby are at home doing fine.
Several New Paltz police officers volunteered time this week to build a wheelchair ramp at the home of injured Officer Robert Knoth.
Knoth and his K-9 partner, Zeus, were involved in a collision with another New Paltz police vehicle last weekend with Officer Joseph Judge, who was also injured.
Zeus, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, was killed in the crash. Zeus had been a patrol/narcotics dog with the department since 2003.
Knoth, 38, has been a member of the New Paltz Police Department for 18 years and a K-9 handler for 12 years.
“He’s the only K-9 handler the department has had,” said Chief Joseph Snyder. Organizations often will donate police dogs, but that time and training is an expense that needs to be discussed with the town, he added. “We’ll wait to see how he heals up and look at what could be done for getting another dog.”
Judge, 24, was released a few days ago and is at home recovering, Snyder said.
Knoth will be confined to a wheelchair for about a month to recover from a fractured hip and other injuries, and is expected home by Thursday.
What a beautiful animal. Hope he makes a full and speedy recovery! It’s wonderful to see all the donations they’ve received, too.
Newberry Township Police have received enough in donations to pay for Logan’s surgery.
“The response has been amazing and we are currently able to pay for the dog’s medical expenses and are in the rare situation of having to turn down donations to take care of the costs,” Chief John Snyder wrote in a news release.
Additional money will go toward the K-9 program. Logan is recovering well and should be back with his handler soon.
Throughout the day Wednesday, police officers spilled into the Newberry Township station asking how surgery went for one of their downed comrades.
Logan, the department’s K-9 dog of three years, is recovering from emergency surgery for an acute gastric distortion — his stomach turned and twisted.
The German Shepherd dog is listed in stable condition, said Newberry Township Police Chief John Snyder.
“They are saying it looks promising, but I don’t know for sure,” Snyder said.
Logan is known throughout the county. He has gone on calls to search for bombs in schools, search for lost children and as a loyal protector of police on security details.
He has been used in presidential details on George Bush’s visits to York County.
Around the station, Logan is considered a loyal friend, a member of the department and comrade, Snyder said.
“He is one of us,” Snyder said.
The cost of the surgery has also rocked the police department. Snyder said he did not have the estimated
$3,000 budgeted for the unexpected expense. The costs for the K-9 program are not part of the budget, with all training and medical costs covered by fundraisers and donations.Already, he said, he is getting some donations to help defray the costs and is asking the community for some help.
Logan is being monitored for post operative complications at the Animal Emergency and Referral Center of York, 1640 S. Queen St., according to practice manager Katina Palm.
She said Dr. Shaka Monroe operated on him this week and corrected the problem, and so far he’s doing well. Palm said he should be able to go home today.
Police agencies across the Jonesboro area Monday warned motorists about safety during traffic stops. Officials with the Craighead County Sheriff’s Office have been investigating claims by a 17-year old female that she was pulled over by a white male driving a dark colored car with red and blue lights on the dashboard. The girl said the incident happened on Highway 18 between Bowman and Lake City Friday night.
The young lady was not harmed, but it has raised plenty of questions about what to do in that situation.
“I know of other troopers, other officers, other agencies that have run into that. That have had some that were a little nervous late at night out on rural highways,” said Trooper Darran Austin with Arkansas State Police.
According to police, most people are nervous when they are stopped for any reason. Police said they want to make sure people know the rules of the road when a traffic stop is initiated.
“A lot of times it’s strictly that they’re looking for a safe place to pull over to get off the road a little bit where it’s safer for them, not in traffic. And a lot of times, they’re looking for a more well lit area to stop also so they can see and be a little more comfortable in some light,” said Austin. “Most people will go ahead and reduce their speed. Slow down acknowledges that they’re acknowledging my intentions of trying to stop them. You know, they see my lights,” said Austin.
“We try and pull up beside the vehicle if it’s safe to do so. Do something where they can see it is a marked car that is trying to stop them, and then when we approach the vehicle. It’s state police policy as well as the law that we identify who we are by name or give our rank that we are given and also what agency that we are working for. That way they do know right on the front end who it is they’re speaking with,” said Austin.
Austin said most state police cars have visual markings to let drivers know who they are, but many city police cars are unmarked and driven by detectives.
“Normally if it happens here in Jonesboro it’s going to be a marked police unit pulling the people over. There are exceptions to that. Sometimes our criminal investigators may have to initiate a traffic stop. In that case, if they’re not a police officer pulling them over, the intelligent thing to do would be to, one, try to find a well lit area where there is other people so that nothing that shouldn’t happen does happen,” said Captain B.J. Smith with the Jonesboro Police Department.
Smith said there are differences on traffic stops in city limits and state highways. It’s easier for a person to find a safe place to pull over in the city.
“If you’re in a rural area you may have to travel 10 miles before you get to a safe place to pull over. Whereas in the city you’re going to find some types of open business, a police station or something along those lines where you can pull over safely,” said Smith. “Of course the city is a more urban area so there’s going to be more areas for people to go to safety.”
According to Arkansas law, a motorist is permitted to drive to a safe destination as long as they’re not trying to run away.
“There’s nothing that really says to go so far or not go so far. We try and understand that they are nervous,” said Austin. “One practice that we try and do if it’s safe to do so, our, for highway patrol with the state police, which is the one that patrols the highways. Our cars are fully marked. Say state troopers. Have our star on the side. Have markings that are visible. At night, they do reflect off of other light so they’re extremely visible at night.”
Smith said criminals who pull people over primarily target women.
“We have had cases in the past if you’re referring to the West Memphis situation where a gentleman was pulling people over pretending to be a police officer. He was targeting women and that seems to be who is usually targeted,” said Smith. “If this is a police impersonator he’s not going to be interested in going to some kind of busy business. Or any place where there is witnesses that can observe what he does.”
Police said many people don’t know what to do when they’re being pulled over. The information is not found in most Arkansas Driver License study guides.
“You do have sometimes elderly folks, or young females, that either don’t know what to do or are unsure about whether or not they should pull over,” said Corporal Brad Snyder with the Paragould Police Department.
Jonesboro and Paragould Police said they have not had reports of suspicious events for several months.
“We know when someone’s trying to run from us, and just go to a well lit area, obviously acknowledging we know you’re back there, with a signal light or something like that, to let us know, hey, we’re going to pull over but we’re wanting to find a better place to do so,” said Snyder.
Police said there are steps you can take to let the officer know you’re suspicious of them and guarantee your safety at the same time.
“If they want to turn they’re hazard on, or hazard lights on, that’s good or a blinker. That lets us know they, ‘Hey, they are planning on stopping.’ They do have intentions of stopping for the traffic stop. They’re just looking for a safe place to do so,” said Austin.
“The hazard lights may be good, again, not drive in an erratic manner but drive at a normal pace and let the officer follow them to a place of their choosing to where they can pull over in a safe manner,” said Smith. “The person might drive straight to the police station, now I would recommend that they don’t take any evasive action or drive crazy or anything along those lines, but if they’re pulled over here in Jonesboro, there are options that they can do to protect themselves.”
Police said they would like motorists to drive carefully when coming to a stop.
“Anything you are in any form or fashion suspect to whether or not that’s an actual police officer, proceed on to a very public location, well lit if it’s in the evening hours, or drive straight to the police department for that matter,” said Snyder.
“Sometimes people will just slam on their brakes when they see the blue lights and stop in the middle of traffic and causes things to be worse, then the first thing the officer has to do is move them to a safer place, so yes, being educated on how to pull over and when would be a good thing,” said Smith.
“I would recommend if they’re in a situation where they’re not sure, if they have a cell phone, they might go ahead and call the dispatch center, find out, hey, what is this situation, is this a real officer behind me, the dispatch center will probably know,” said Smith.
“We’re not going to take offense if you want to proceed on to a location you feel is safer. That’s not going to offend us at all. In fact, we encourage that for folks that are kind of weary, especially females driving along at nighttime.