K-9 program to continue in Sugarcreek

By Beverly Keller

The Budget

While it will be with a new officer and dog, the Sugarcreek Police Department plans to continue its successful K-9 program after approval was granted by Sugarcreek Council on Monday night.

“We already have the car and the equipment,” explained Sugarcreek Police Chief Kevin Kaser. “We have had a K-9 unit for the past six years. In the past four years, we have had 150 narcotics arrests because of the unit. We have seen a major increase in felony level offenses with drugs like heroin and meth.”

Kaser noted that the first step is to look at purchasing a new dog. Former Sugarcreek K-9 AJ was decommissioned and sold to his handler, former Sugarcreek Police Sgt. Mark Nathan for the sum of $1. Due to his age, retraining AJ with what would have been his third handler was not a feasible option.

While there are several choices for a new dog, Kaser noted he would prefer a German Shepherd this time in terms of a breed. However, he would like to stay with the training methods including a calm alert for narcotics. “Some other dogs use a scratching motion to alert and that can get us into issues with a car being scratched,” Kaser explained of behavior he finds desirable in a K-9 unit.

Once a dog has been selected and identified, the dog, usually 1 – 2 years old with some basic training, would be paired up with its handler. In this case, Kaser said interviews within the Sugarcreek Police Department would be held for officers interested. In addition to interviews conducted by Kaser, there would be others who have K-9 training brought in to make sure the officer is the right fit.

In terms of care for the dog, Sugarcreek Vet Clinic has reaffirmed their pledge of providing basic care for free. “Now if there is something major, we would need to pay for that,” Kaser explained.

Food for the dog is also provided thanks to a program from Petsmart. “Right now I have that on hold until we have a new dog in place,” he stated.

The cost of the last K-9 was $4,500. Kaser noted that today, dogs cost anywhere between $4,000 and $7,000.

A motion was made by Councilman Jason Hamsher and seconded by Councilman Mick Fanning to allow Kaser to select and purchase a dog with a purchase price not to exceed $7,000. There were no objections.

In other, council:

APPROVED the appointment of Tristan Lambert (current part-time officer) and Tabitha Cunningham to the Sugarcreek Police Department as full-time officers as well as Jeremy Lampley as a part-time officer. Lampley will be dual-commissioned as he works for the Holmes County Sheriff’s Department.

APPROVED up to $50,000 plus the cost of pipe to install a sewer pump station to properties on the west edge of Sugarcreek, including Holmes Rental Station.

ACCEPTED the resignation of Dan Yoder Jr. from the Sugarcreek Fire Department, effective September 11, 2018. Yoder served as the assistant chief and has been a firefighter for over 34 years. Councilman Jeff Schrock asked that, out of respect for his service, a proclamation be issued to Yoder.

APPROVED a measure that will provide financial assistance to an approved EMT-B with the Sugarcreek Fire Department who wishes to pursue training as a paramedic. Taylor Fach was approved after an interview process, to receive the assistance that is 50 percent of his tuition (not including books or uniforms) when he begins training. After serving a minimum of 72 hours per month for three years, the remaining 50 percent will be refunded.

This story originally appeared in the September 19, 2018 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.