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The Value of Edmond’s K-9 Unit

Edmond is fortunate to have an excellent K-9 unit. My name is Sergeant Bill Gilbert and as part of my duties I oversee this elite unit of well trained dogs and their officer handlers.
I have been an officer with the Edmond Police department for 17 years and have seen many changes in the growth of the K-9 unit.
The Edmond Police Department has utilized police canines since the 1970’s. The early dogs were locally acquired and trained at a state correctional facility. In approximately 1980 the unit was disbanded due to manpower and budgetary constraints.



K-9 Officers Ready to Protect and Serve

There’s a saying in the Edmond Police Department: “Always trust the nose.” That’s because four members of the squad are prized for their phenomenal sense of smell. And their speed, agility, intuition and work ethic aren’t bad, either.

The K-9 unit at the Edmond Police Department continues to have a positive effect on the officers who work with the dogs and, ultimately, the citizens they serve. The department’s four K-9 officers, three dogs specializing in narcotics search and one in explosives, make an indelible mark on the law enforcement community.

Among the K-9 units is Mambo, who is paired with Officer Neil Martin. The two are partners in serving Edmond in a variety of law enforcement operations. officerneilmartinmambo1

“The dogs are invaluable. They’re a great tool,” says Martin, who takes Mambo home with him at the end of every shift. “Especially for tracking and narcotics, there’s nothing that can replace them.”

Martin’s worked with Mambo for several months. The two underwent a training period of eight weeks before patrolling the streets together. Mambo is a multi-purpose dog. His specialty is narcotics hunting, but he’s cross-trained in tracking and other skills.

An example of Mambo’s versatility is the fact that he can go from searching a vehicle suspected of narcotics to tracking an elderly Alzheimer’s patient who has wandered away from home.

“All the dogs are trained in ‘passive tracking,’” Martin says, “which means that they’ll follow the trail, but in a mode where they’re not going to bite. That helps us search for kids, Alzheimer’s patients and
suicidal subjects.”

But when the police are tracking a “bad guy,” all it takes is a verbal command for Mambo to switch gears. The dogs are not only trained to track the scent of someone, they will apprehend him if given the command.

“We have use-of-force policies, and our requirements are if a felony has been committed or for protection of the handler,” Martin says. “We deploy the dogs after giving a warning to someone we’re chasing. A lot of people have an innate fear of dogs and will stop. These are extremely high-drive dogs. They really push themselves hard. But they’re also seamless in going from one thing to another.”

Although the dogs may appear aggressive, they’re not mean at heart. Rather, they’re trained to react to a handler’s commands. When Mambo goes home with Martin at the end of the day, the dog turns into a house pet that chews bones and loves affection. Mambo knows when it’s time to go to work, but he also knows when it’s time to relax. And after a day full of police work, he’s usually ready to take it easy.

“People may see Mambo on the streets and think he’s a mean dog, but they don’t see him flipped on his back chewing a bone,” Martin says. “Watching him go from a house dog to a working dog is really neat. When it’s time to go to work, he pops into that mode. It’s really nice that people have a respect for police dogs. These dogs are committing their lives to protecting citizens.”

Mambo is a German Shepherd, but he’s actually from a Czech bloodline. Such dogs are prized more for their skills and attitude than their physical appearance. Mambo’s coat is a bit darker than a traditional German shepherd, and he has something of a “ghost look” around his eyes.

“In low light, it’s almost like he’s a ghost looking at you,” Martin says. “He’s trained to be the alpha dog, except to me. So if somebody is fearful, Mambo will lower his head and eyebrows toward the person. He picks up on everything.”

Martin gives his commands to Mambo in German. Using a foreign language is typical for instructing a police dog. Mambo knows a few English words, but his police commands
are in German.

Most dogs are from foreign sources anyway, S.P. Martin notes, so memorizing German phrases was part of Martin’s learning curve, and an extra layer of protection.

“You never want someone else to be able to give your dogs a command or confuse them,” Martin says. “You don’t want that dog to hear something in the middle of something big and become confused.”

Martin worked for many years at the Edmond Police Department without a K-9 partner. But he always looked up to the officers with dogs and set a goal for one day serving in that capacity. Having a dog partner on patrol is an extra layer of protection, and capability to serve, he says.

Sometimes that means dog slobber on his uniform, dog hair that won’t brush off his pants or extra hours of training. But it’s more than worth it.

“The dogs always have your back. They’re always ready to do something for you,” Martin says. “They’re willing to give all for us. I really love it. It’s one of the best jobs ever.

Sgt. Bill Gilbert oversees the K-9 units at the Edmond Police Department. “Dogs have been part of the squad since 1984 and they’ve made a difference for officers and citizens,
without fail,” he notes.

“The dogs are an overall tool that is so valuable on a daily basis to us,” Gilbert says. “There’s nothing out there that could ever replace the dogs. We rely on them so much.”


Cops need a hug too

Early this week, the mayor unveiled a new mandate for residents in city of Columbus: “Hug a firefighter if you see one today,” he told reporters Monday.

The mayor continued to sing the praises of the city’s firefighters, whose union representation voted to “save lives—and save jobs,” by foregoing 2009 pay raises they’d already spent hours negotiating.

The decision saved a few million bucks, and helped plug a $90 million hole in the city’s 2009 budget.

“It’s a time of sacrifice and responsibility,” Coleman said, evoking the spirit of President Obama’s inaugural address, adding that he was “sad and disappointed” that four unions, including reps for the police and city hall workers, declined his offer to embrace a new era of responsibility.

But as the week progressed, it turned out the cops weren’t such bad guys, either. They just weren’t as quick to blink in this staring contest—even after Coleman threatened that CPD’s newly trained class of 27 officers would have to be laid off to save cash. By Wednesday, though, there were signs that might not have to happen at all.

The mayor was set to meet with council members yesterday, as The Other Paper was going to press, concerning a proposal prepared by Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9 president Jim Gilbert, who said he’s found other ways to help the city cut its remaining $13 million budget deficit, in order to save the 114th class of recruits who were set to graduate Friday.

“The city is stating this is a layoff pending the availability of finding a way to save some money,” said Gilbert. “It’s got to be something the city is willing to take before I take it back to my members. But we’re back at the table and we’re looking at everything.”

The mayor’s office confirmed Wednesday afternoon that it’s hoping to save the recruits, who were told only a day earlier they were being laid off, effective Feb. 27.

“The mayor will be very pleased if $1.25 million could be saved elsewhere so these layoffs would not have to take place,” said the mayor’s spokesman, Dan Williamson

The Wednesday meeting with council also was to address additional cost-cutting measures, including the possibility of other layoffs in other offices. Williamson said the mayor hopes council votes on the measures Feb. 9.

The city has been working on slashing a 2009 city budget deficit of more than $90 million since November. Thus far, some 120 city employees have lost their jobs, and most of the city’s recreation centers have been closed.

On Jan. 14, Coleman asked five of the cities unions to accept pay freezes—or face layoffs— to help eliminate the remaining $13 million deficit. He gave them a Jan. 23 deadline.

Only the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 67 agreed to the request, on the condition that it would not “forego” pay raises and bonuses, but merely “suspend” them until further notice. The cooperation prompted the mayor’s figurative hug.

It was a kick in the teeth to police officers, said Gilbert, who had four officers shot and one stabbed in the face in the line of duty in 2008.

“I think that’s an insult to the police officers,” said Gilbert. “And that’s not a slam to the firefighters—they risk their lives too, and the fire union can’t control what the mayor says. But we had four officers that could have been killed (four Columbus officers were shot in the line of duty in 2008) and there was no public outcry from any politician to go hug a cop. It’s a little insulting.”

“We’d look like heroes, too, if the mayor would negotiate raises for us to reject,” said Gilbert.

The FOP, who last received a 4 percent pay increase in December of 2007, claim they were never offered 2009 raises to forego.

We understand the economic times and we’re sensitive to the city’s needs,” Gilbert said. “Our families have felt that, too. But bring us something we can defer or bring back to the table to offer our members.”

The mayor’s office denies they threw the first pitch in a game of hardball.

“Everybody sat in the same meeting and everybody got the same letter,” said Williamson.

“If everybody had rejected the request, than that might be a legitimate question.”

The mayor gave his ultimatum to the city’s five unions—IAFF, FOP, FOP/Ohio Labor Council, Columbus Municipal Association of Government Employees Local 4502, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

He also made that ultimatum public.

While the mayor’s office was busy hugging firefighters for, as Williamson said, getting “the message”—the FOP, which represents 1,800 police officers, filed an unfair labor practice charge against Coleman with the State Employment Relations Board for using the public to “strong-arm” the union into agreeing to his ultimatum, Gilbert said.

The other four unions weren’t filing complaints, but they weren’t making happy, either. AFSCME, who’s had a contract in place with the city since April, sent a firm “no” to the mayor’s offer Friday, saying it’s paid its dues—500 of its members have been laid off in the last six years.

“We’re not interested,” said Doug Moore, president of AFSCME’s 2,500-member union, comprised of 9-1-1 operators, trash collectors, maintenance workers and office workers. “I think we’ve done our part.”

CMAGE, which represents 1,200 of the city’s technical, professional and supervisory employees, also was in the midst of negotiations when the mayor issued his deadline request. It began negotiations in July; the CMAGE contract expired in August.

“All of us know the kind of economic times we’re living in,” said Brien Bellous, CMAGE president. “The biggest issue for us is the spending. We’re not saying that he hasn’t cut spending, because we see it all over. It’s just that there are many things still out there that need addressed.”

Williamson said if the mayor’s office thought there was extra fat in the budget to cut, he would have done it before he started laying off workers.

“If there was more fat to cut, there wouldn’t have been the closure of the rec centers,” he said. “We cut through the fat, through the skin, and now we’re into the bone.”

Safety services, including police and fire, makes up at least 71 percent of the city’s budget, said Williamson.

CPD deputy chief Walter Distelzweig said there will be no immediate effect on the city’s emergency services if proposed cuts are made, though Columbus residents may see a slow response time on non-emergency services.

“Immediately, I don’t think we’ll see any effect,” he said. “But there will definitely be an impact as we go through the rest of the year.”

The mayor’s office expects there won’t be any impact at all—now or later.

“It’s a matter of smart policing,” said Williamson. “The mayor both trusts and expects his division of police to keep people safe.”


Monroe police officers honored

Ten Monroe police officers were honored Friday for their part in the rescue of an infant following a June double murder-suicide.

During a brief ceremony, Monroe Police Chief Ron Schleuter awarded the department’s Medal of Valor to members of the department’s Special Response Team for their part in the June 11 standoff at a home on North McGuire Street. During the incident, SRT members entered the home during an armed standoff and rescued a crying infant who was lying on the floor.

“They made entry into the home without regard to themselves,” Schleuter said. “We felt that given the fact they went into the situation without regard for their safety, they deserved to be recognized for what they did.”

Officers recognized were Hank Smith, Mark Johnson, Jeff Gilbert, Mark Nappier, Jerry Melton, Carey Satrey, Lee Bishop, Quinton Holmes, Ted Kincannon and Jamie Eppinette.

On June 11, Bobby Brantley walked into a North McGuire Street home and shot his estranged wife and her mother before shooting himself after a standoff as police entered the house to save a 4-month-old boy, who was lying next to one of the women.

According to police and eyewitness accounts, Brantley went to the house shortly before noon armed with two shotguns, shooting and swearing as he approached.

His estranged wife, Theresa Brantley, 31, was pronounced dead at the scene, along with 55-year-old Treeba Ryder and Bobby Brantley. Theresa Brantley’s father, Clinton Ryder, 60, survived a glancing blast to the face from a shotgun.

A two-hour standoff ensued with dozens of emergency personnel, including Monroe police and fire, state troopers and SWAT officers. Schleuter said the Special Response Team decided to go into the home after it sent a digitally equipped robot inside and heard the infant cry. Through the robot camera, they also could see a woman lying on the floor.

The women, he said, were already dead when the response team went in.

As Gilbert and Bishop walked into the kitchen, they saw Brantley shoot himself.

“It was a very unfortunate incident — tragic,” Bishop said. “But it’s an honor to be recognized.

“So many times in your career you encounter these kinds of things in the line of duty and it’s nice to be appreciated.”

In June, the police department honored the Ryders’ neighbor Alissa Gaines, with a certificate of appreciation and a coin of commendation for helping three children who were in the house get to safety after the first shots were fired.


Columbus FOP President says violence against cops must stop

COLUMBUS, Ohio– CPD said an officer was stabbed in the face late Tuesday after he was called to help another officer.

The responding officer opened fire on the suspect.

NBC 4has followed this developing story since it broke, and Tom Brockman reported on the latest information.

The man accused of stabbing the officer remained in critical condition Grant Medical Center, and police continued to work to identify him.

An officer who was working special duty in the area of Franklin University attempted to stop an individual for suspicious behavior at approximately 9:07 p.m. Tuesday.

The officer radioed for backup and attempted to question the unidentified male. The officer’s backup arrived, and the suspect fled on foot, a police report said.

Officers caught the suspect a short distance away in a narrow walkway between a pair of buildings located on the university’s property.

Police said the suspect pulled a knife and stabbed one of the officers in the face. The suspect was shot by the backup officer.

The officer was transported to Grant where he was treated and released for a stab wound to the jaw.

One could say, from a violence standpoint, it’s been a Red October, Brockman reported. There have been 10 homicides, dozens of aggravated assaults and hundreds of assaults and robberies.

FOP President Jim Gilbert said the violence has got to stop.

“The violence in this city is getting out of hand, and now my officers are getting stabbed in the face. Something has got to be done with the violence that’s occurring,” Gilbert said.

How does the violence this October compare with the same month last year? Brockman reports with FAST FACTS.

Homicides are up by seven, and aggravated assaults are up by eight. However, Brockman said, there have been 67 fewer robberies and 42 fewer assaults.

Police said while the numbers seem high, the city’s 88 homicides so far are on pace with 2005 and 2006 numbers.

What is CPD doing to fight this spike? Representatives said there isn’t much more they can do. Limited by a tight budget, officials said the department simply doesn’t have the money to put any more officers on the streets or pay overtime.

Meanwhile, officials encouraged officers to remain vigilant and communicate the best they can.

Tuesday’s incident will be investigated by CPD’s critical incident response team and the firearms/police-involved death review board. The final investigative package will be forwarded to the appropriate Columbus Division of Police chain of command for review.