|Communities, donors rally around K-9 safety initiatives
When the Ripon Police Department's K-9 retired in 2010, so went the budget to support the department's K-9 program.
As municipalities struggle under tight economic restrictions, programs like costly K-9 teams end up on the cutting room floor.
Pictured left to right: Officer Will Fowler with K-9 Aik, Oshkosh
Police Department; Deputy Erica Geschrei with K-9 Kai, Winnebago County Sheriff's Department; and Officer Trevor Hanke with K-9 Rony, Ripon Police Department.
A K-9, however, is a community relations tool and tremendous asset in policing, says Capt. Bill Wallner.
Local police agency K-9 officers serve multiple purposes including drug enforcement during vehicle traffic stops, school searches and the execution of drug warrants. The dogs are trained for officer protection and to track suspects involved in crimes. K-9s also are used to search for missing persons. The most visible use is during community outreach opportunities.
"The community started to recognize the value and showed support for bringing back a K-9 officer," Wallner says.
"I APPRECIATE ALL OF THE PUBLIC SUPPORT WE GET ON A DAILY BASIS AND IT IS REWARDING WHEN A DONOR FEELS WE ARE WORTHY TO BE A RECIPIENT." - Chief Scott Greuel, Oshkosh Police Department
Ripon's Police Department launched an $85,000 fundraising campaign to rebuild its K-9 program in July 2014, and in six months reached its goal. Among the many supporters were the Ripon Fund and Rotary Club of Ripon Charitable Foundation, both funders through the Green Lake County/Ripon Community Foundation.
K-9 Rony was sworn in on May 8, 2015. Later that day, the dog assisted the Green Lake County Sheriff's Department with a traffic stop. K-9 Rony detected drugs in the vehicle and a felony arrest was made for heroin possession.
"They're such a great asset. I consider them employees. They just want to work and our K-9 officers are great," says Winnebago County Sheriff John Matz.
Thanks to funding from the Tom and Penny Harenburg Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, the county added a third K-9 officer in April 2015. Matz says the addition means a K-9 unit will be on duty on all three patrol shifts. "It would have been years before we could have added a third dog," Matz says. "(The gift) took us by surprise, and it was a welcome one."
The Oshkosh Police Department also received funds for its third K-9 unit in 2015, allowing the department to have a K-9 on each shift, too. Support came from Foundation donor advised and field of interest funds, as well as anonymous donors.
"There is a certain deterrent effect with having dogs as part of our operations, especially with those that may be involved with drug crimes," says Oshkosh Police Chief Scott Greuel.
"The donation came at the right time in my organizational planning and (the addition) would likely not have been reality without the donation."
Support the Winnebago County Sheriff's K-9 program with gifts to
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