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K9 program gets financial boost; who will step up next?

City officials recently introduced Tacoma, a male mixture of Belgian Malinois and German shepherd, as the first of what is hoped will be a new three-dog team for the city police department.

City police have had K9 units steadily since 1979, but have been without police dog since 2015, when its last K9, Edo, was retired.

Police officers and their K-9 partners over the past four decades have included Gary Mayers and Red; William Lynn and Lasso and Bandit; William Kempf and Spike; Glenn Ardrey and Lido; Lawrence Kuhns and Kayser and Zanto; David Ritter and Orex; Robert Samm and Eros and Fero; Scott Henry and Fero; David Bailey and Mondo, Andy and Bauser; Eric Delker and Draco; Brian Womer and Scott; Timothy Miller and Alex; Joshua Bell and Edo.

Earlier this year, efforts began to secure private donations to resurrect the K9 unit. A goal of City Councilwoman Bonnie Katz has been that the costs be raised through private donations and not simply taken from tax dollars.

Ciocca Dealerships stepped forward with a $43,861 check to obtain and train Tacoma, the first K9 on what could become a new team. Training is to begin in a bit over a month for Tacoma and his handler, Officer Tyson Minier.

Additional donations will be sought to fund two more K9s next year. Altogether, they represent another tool intended to help keep the city safe.

Besides being trained to sniff out illicit drugs, the K9s will serve as “ambassadors” for the city, according to Katz. They will have a presence at schools, be used in events that attract large crowds and provide assistance to smaller area police departments in the event they require it, according to police chief Damon Hagan.

We really appreciate that type of regional thinking when it comes to the K9 team.

We also have a great appreciation for Ciocca’s contribution for Tacoma and hope to see another benefactor or two step forward to fund the other two K9s. A financial commitment for these dogs would make for a nice holiday gift for the citizens of Williamsport and surrounding communities.

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