Since November, the Newark Police Department has been asking for funds to be able to continue its K9 program.
A week ago, they raised enough money to support the program for years to come.
K-9 Ike began duty is 2011 and K-9 Bear in 2012. Both will be retiring this year. Those retirements made it even more important for the department to get the funds needed for the K9 program.
“Since the inception of our K9 unit, the city of Newark has never actually had to write a check for any of the dogs purchased. They were purchased years ago by the handlers themselves or local organizations and as the prices of possible police dogs increased after 9/11 we have to rely more heavily on corporate and individual donations,” said Newark Police Chief Barry Connell.
Chief Connell says the K9 unit in Newark will be 50 years old next year.
“Having been on the department for 28 years. I was a long time canine handler and trainer for the department so I have a personal connection,” said Connell.
He says the K-9’s save officer and staffing needs for example, searching a building… a police dog can search a building much quicker and tracking down suspects.
Patrolman John Purtee is a K9 handler for Beat and says the police dogs do the work of six police officers.
“Invaluable. It’s about the best job in the police department. I’ve always got somebody in the back of the car with me. Always got backup. Bear will protect me if I got in a fight I could push a button on my belt and let him out he’s always right there,” said Purtee.
The department originally set a goal of about $30,000 to buy the dogs and get them trained. Funds were raised through fundraisers, corporate donations, private individuals and members of the community.
They managed to raise double what they were asking.
“This will carry us through the next 20 years. So not only the two dogs that we’re replacing and getting now, but when they retire we’ll be able to replace them so we’re pretty much set for the next two decades,” said Chief Connell.
“It’s going to be great and we don’t have to do the fundraising anymore. We don’t have to go back to the public and ask for money so it should be and it’s going to take care of us,” said Patrolman Purtee.
K9 Bear will be retiring at the end of the year. That’s around the same time the department expects to get a new K9 as his replacement.
K9 Ike is still with the department. K9 Mismo was added on May 18 and will take over for K9 Ike once Ike retires.