The Watertown Police Department initiated a K-9 fundraising campaign in May of 2018 in the hopes of raising $18,000 to get a new K-9 team running and to sustain the additional equipment needed for the training. The department’s current K-9 team of Watertown Police Officer Tony Namio and his partner Oeczi remain active, but Oeczi will be taken out of service in 2019 due to his age. Namio and Oeczi went into service August 9, 2011, and its anticipated Oeczi will be able to serve eight full years before retiring with the Namio family in 2019.
In two months, the department has raised $21,732.51 for a new K-9 team.
“The immediate and incredibly generous financial support for a new police K-9 surprised us all. The response speaks volumes about Watertown and our collective desire to maintain a safe community. We are tremendously grateful for the community’s responsiveness to the request,” said Tim Roets, Watertown police chief. “The department received a couple large anonymous donations, but the majority of the donations came from citizens that see the value of the program and want to keep a K-9 team on the Watertown Police Department. We are thankful to everyone who has contributed and I am confident our department’s next K-9 team will serve the city very effectively.”
A selection process was completed to pick the next Watertown Police Department K-9 Officer. Officer J. Luke Hensley was selected to fill the role. Hensley is also an officer in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. Hensley will soon be deployed in an active duty military role on an assignment outside of the United States until 2019.
“Officer Hensley is an excellent choice for our next K-9 officer,” Roets said. “When he returns from his military deployment in 2019 he and his K-9 will begin training and once certified will begin serving the city on the evening shift.”
The Watertown Police Department plans to purchase the new K-9 from Jessiffany Canine Services, LLC Iron Ridge. The initial cost of the dual purpose dog will be $10,000. Dual purpose dogs are certified in narcotic detection; handler protection, tracking and article searches.
The dog will be imported from Europe and will be a German Shepherd, Dutch Shepherd or Malinois. An additional cost of $3,000 for four weeks of training to certify the K-9 team is required after the dog is purchased. Continuous training for K-9 teams does not stop after certification. The Supreme Court strongly suggests that K-9 teams should strive to achieve 14 hours of training per month.
All donations to date have been placed in a city reserve account where it will remain until the new K-9 is purchased in 2019. Any additional future donations received will be placed in the reserve account and put to expenditures associated with materials to build a kennel at the handler’s home, future equipment and monthly training costs.