The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Harrisburg K-9 unit hopes for donations

  • The Harrisburg Police Departments K-9 Unit lost it's funding through city council mandated budget cuts this year and a multi-year program that has been an important part of local law enforcement is now in jeopardy.
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  • The Harrisburg Police Departments K-9 Unit lost it's funding through city council mandated budget cuts this year and a multi-year program that has been an important part of local law enforcement is now in jeopardy.
    Five years ago, the Harrisburg Police Department began their K-9 Unit, which is comprised of the highly trained police dog, Dealer and her equally well trained human, Harrisburg Police Officer Nathan Moore. The city invested a start up cost of approximately $37,000 five years ago to purchase Dealer, solicit a volunteer from the department to be the human part of the unit and continue the necessary three- month training period in Springfield to bond man and dog into a formidable crime fighting and crime prevention force.
    Harrisburg Police Officer Nathan Moore volunteered to be the human component of the team and has not regretted his decision in the five years that he and Dealer have served as a unit of protection and service for the community and county.
    “We are a valuable asset to the overall law enforcement power of both the city and the county,” Moore said. “There is no other K-9 service immediately available to law enforcement in the county.”
    And sometimes this can mean the difference between life and death for the citizens of our area. While Dealer is primarily trained as an enforcement dog, she can operate in a limited search and rescue mode for missing or suicidal individuals. Moore recounted one instance involving an call from Eldorado concerning a suicidal individual.
    “The person in question was alleged to have swallowed a large number of pills. Dealer tracked him and we found the individual unconscious,” Moore said.
    It is very possible that a life was saved in that instance. Dealer can also track missing individuals, though her training is focused on search and capture techniques.
    Moore explained that there is a “Three Pronged” criteria for Dealers deployment against criminals.
    “We look at the severity of the offense that the person is alleged to have committed. “Then the next two criteria are the level of danger the individual represents to police officers and then the level of danger to the public,” Moore said.
    Moore added that, in the situation of an armed offender, all three criteria were met and Dealer would be immediately released to apprehend the individual.
    All this may lead the citizens of the city and county to think of Dealer as a vicious weapon, under tight police control. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Daily Register found Dealer to be a very friendly, sweet and instantly obedient dog. While she was clearly a highly trained member of the police force, Moore states that she routinely plays with his children and very often parents ask Moore, when he and Dealer are on patrol, if their children can pet and interact with Dealer.
    Page 2 of 2 - “This helps our departments public relations effort a great deal,” said Harrisburg Police Chief Bob Smith. “Her value as a law enforcement tool and her value as a way for children to learn to interact with the police and not to be afraid to go to a officer for help is very great,” Smith said, adding, “Thats a very good thing.”
    Dealer is a nine-year-old, female Dutch Shepard, with a brindle coat. Though not as large as the public’s image of police dogs would lead one to expect, Dealer’s greatness of heart, dedication, obedience and loyalty are immediately evident after even the briefest interaction with her. Smith stated that the initial costs of purchase and advanced training for Dealer have been amortized and the continuing cost of approximately $4,700 a year are, in his and area law enforcement officers opinion, well worth paying to have a K-9 unit available to assist the police of area at all times.
    “You have to look at all the needs that a K-9 unit has, a secure kennel, training facilities, equipment, training re-certification and, of course, what a dog needs to be a happy and contented animal. This is a cost that our K-9 unit is, I think, well worth.”
    Smith and Moore both stated that Dealer being present is very often a powerful force multiplier for the department.
    “She is a very useful officer safety tool,” Moore said.
    With the funding for the K-9 unit cut by the city, Smith is forced to appeal to the community for support of an element of his force that he feels is priceless to the areas police enforcement program.
    He hopes that the citizens of our communities feel the same way and want to help. Chief Smith would be very grateful for any and all support that individuals, businesses or organizations would be willing to give to assist in support of this vital element of local law enforcement. All questions or donations can be addressed to Harrisburg Police Chief Bob Smith, at 618-252-8661 or 1 North Main Street, Harrisburg, Illinois, 62946.
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