The Portage County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) announced Tuesday, Aug. 6, plans to purchase a second law enforcement K-9 unit and will seek approximately $15,000 in donations from community members to purchase and train the new K-9 unit.
The new dog will be trained in narcotic detection, apprehensions and large area searches for both narcotics and people. The sheriff’s office currently operates with one K-9 unit, a Belgian Malinois named Baco, which they purchased in 2010.
“We’re very happy with Baco; as far as getting along with the pubic and doing his job real well. He’s probably the best dog we’ve had,” Sheriff John Charewicz said. “The kennel trains them so they can be used as a police dog and as a public relations dog – Baco is very friendly until he gets the command to go to work, then he is all business.”
The PCSO’s K-9 unit is on-call 24/7 for searches and special response team (SRT) events, however, he usually only works every other week for the sheriff’s department and surrounding law enforcement agencies with his handler, deputy Daniel Wachowiak.
In 2012 alone, Baco was deployed 111 times to participate in narcotic searches, search warrants and for SRT/SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) use. The purchase of an additional K-9 unit would allow all law enforcement agencies in the county to have access to a K-9 unit when necessary, 365 days of the year instead of biweekly and would increase search and patrol officer capabilities.
In addition to search and narcotics detection, the Portage County K-9 unit makes yearly presentations in each school district in the county and also for many civic groups in the area. The dog also must be recertified annually at Vohne Liche Kennels in Indiana.
The PCSO has already reserved a training spot for April 2014 at Vohne Liche Kennels for their second K-9 unit and plans to conduct interviews for the new handler in September.
Employees in the sheriff’s department have already donated more than $1,000 to the new K-9 unit purchase and training fees. Charewicz also said they’ve already received some large donations and pledges from businesses in the community.
“Over the last 20 years the program has been supported by the public and in turn we have used the dogs in all sorts of public encounters through school districts and law enforcement,” Charewicz said. “We’re hoping the public will come forth with suggestions on what they would like to do to help us raise the money.”