SIDNEY — Sidney Police Department’s (SPD) K-9 team is about to be a little safer on the job thanks to the donated bullet and stab protective vests for the dogs that will arrive soon.
K-9 Officers Kash’s and Kilo’s vests were donated by Vested Interest in K9s Inc., a non-profit charitable organization located in East Taunton, Massachusetts.
“A smart cop wears a bullet proof vest. While wearing a vest, it is not a 100 percent guarantee of survival, (but there is) a much higher potential of stopping a bullet before it injures or kills (an officer) than not wearing one,” Sidney Police Chief Will Balling said. “Our K-9s are considered an officer and part of our family. Anything that we can do to help keep them safe is worth it.”
Kash’s vest will be embroidered with the sentiment, “In memory of Choco.” Kilo’s vest will be embroidered with, “Honoring those who served and sacrificed.” The vests are expected to be delivered within the next eight weeks.
Kash, a 2 1/2-year-old German Shepherd, and his handler Officer Nick Zimmer have been partners on the job since Sept. 26, 2018. Kilo, soon to be 5 years old at the end of February, is also a German Shepherd. He and his handler Officer Jim Jennings have been partners on the job since April 22, 2016.
Currently when on general patrol, Kilo and Kash wear regular chain collars. The dogs’ handlers said the only other type gear the dogs wear during a track is a tracking harness. The harness puts pressure only on the dogs’ chest, rather than around their neck like patrol collars do. The tracking harness attaches to the K-9’s leash, near the center of their backs, not at the neck. Kilo is wearing a tracking harness in his photo.
Jennings said K9s will have to get used to their new body armor because they have never worn a vest before. Kilo and Kash will be the first Sidney K-9 officers to wear such protective vests.
“We will start having the K-9s wear them for a couple hours a day until they can be worn full time,” Jennings said. “The vest will be worn on all call-outs the day they are received. The vest will add extra weight so it will take some getting use to.”
SPD reports the K-9 team was very busy in 2019. Together, the K-9s and their handler officers, conducted the following activity last year:
• 292 deployments;
• 182 alerts for drugs on vehicles;
• 95 individuals charged for felonies due to drugs;
• Three K-9 tracks, which resulted in three individuals be located and arrested;
• Eight K-9 presentations to the public;
• Three Tactical Response Team (TRT) deployments.
“Together, they formed effective teams and are a highly valuable tool in combating drug trafficking and criminal activity,” Balling’s vest donations press release said.
“Officer Zimmer and I have talked about the vests for some time and since our last two SWAT call-outs were involving armed or dangerous subjects, we felt it would be a great tool for the K9s,” Jennings said. “In these types situations, the K-9s are sometimes used to enter a residence or building to locate the suspect and apprehend them. Having a vest on a K9 will put our minds a little more at ease knowing they have some protection.”
Jennings said SPD learned of Vested Interest in K9s Inc. from Deputy Frank Bleigh from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K-9 is $950. Each vest has a value between $1,744 to $2,283, and a five-year warranty. The vest weighs approximately 4 to 5 pounds.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K-9s throughout the United States, the release said.
The mission of Vested Interest in K9s Inc. is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 3,500 U.S. made, custom fitted, NIJ certified protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $6.9 million dollars.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.