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Donations still needed to provide
the service officer for community
The Bremen Police Department will be adding another law enforcement staff member in the fall. Patrolman Trent Stouder has been on the local force for nine years and will be the one acquiring the new partner, a trained K9 of his choosing. Working mostly second and third shifts keeping Bremen streets safe, Stouder is the one most likely to need assistance â€” though his physical stature and uniform including police equipment wouldn't show it.
"On the night shift, if I come across a situation that I need a K9, I have to call the Nappanee or Plymouth Departments to see if they have a dog available," he said. "They are all willing to assist, but rarely are they available at the time you need them."
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted records for 2009 show that officer deaths and assaults most often occur between the hours of 8 p.m. and midnight, and most often on Saturday nights.
"It has always been my opinion that the night shift is more dangerous because there are less people at work or in school â€” leaving time for other activities including drug and alcohol abuse," said Bremen Police Chief Matt Hassel.Â "Some criminals utilize the darkness to aid in their criminal activity."
Stouder said in his experience, he has found the night shift to have more drunk driving, domestic disputes, drug activity and resisting arrest cases, the latter two of which the dog can strongly assist with. "It will protect its handler and the other officers," he explained. "I'm an active officer and I see that the (drug) problem is out there."
Stouder said that the training facility where the dog will be purchased from, Vohne Liche Kennels of Denver, Ind., offers single- and dual-purpose dogs trained by former military and law enforcement agents, and that the Bremen K9 will be trained to serve at several capacities â€” abilities that cost an extra $5,000 to instill in the animal beyond the standard training. The canines at Vohne Liche are also vigorously trained to ignore distractions such as animal and random human odors within a 350-acre course that includes warehouses, offices, houses, hotels and other training areas and varied situations. Founded in 1993 by U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Kenneth Licklider, the company's reputation is one well-known by more than 5,000 law enforcement agencies in more than 20 countries. Dogs trained there have gone on to serve the NSA, Pentagon, U.S. State Department, U.S. Army, and more than 500 civilian police agencies.
"They (the training facility) interview you about your home and work lifestyle," explained Stouder. "They narrow it down from about 150 dogs to 20 and then you meet them and ultimately pick your dog." Following the selection process Stouder will train with the dog for five weeks, learning to handle and command it, and take it home, for them to familiarize themselves with one another before going on the streets to work together. He plans to pick the dog Aug. 26 and then train with it until Sept. 6.
"A K-9 program will provide several new services and enhance others such as drug detection, prevention and prosecution of drug offenses," said Chief Hassel. "It will help with locating suspects that flee from police or hide in buildingsÂ or houses, and finding lost persons such as children or adults with disabilities or medical issues that have wondered off. It (the K9) can help with officer safety by detecting where the suspect is prior to the officer encountering them; with crime prevention by the dog's ability to provide evidence allowing for a search and seizure; and with community service, by helpingÂ to educate the youth about theÂ serious problems drugs cause in our community."Â
The department's last dog died of cancer in 1999.
"He (Lando) was the only dog the Bremen Police Department has had and served from 1994 to 1999," explained Chief Hassel.
"We tried to get it replaced right away," Stouder explained. "Patrolman (Ron) Rybicki said that the amount of drug arrests dropped significantly without the dog."
The reason it hasn't been replaced was because of budget issues.
"Everyone has been supportive of the idea," said Stouder, "but they just don't have the money to do it. It was okayed at the last meeting â€”Â as long as we raise the money to pay for it."
"During the 2011 budget hearings held in May of 2010 the Town Board of Metropolitan Police Commissioners did propose funding for the K-9 program to the
Town Board," explained Chief Hassel, "but due to the reduced revenue causedÂ by the slow economy, the Board could not secure the funding needed to restart the program."
Because of some generous police department supporters (including Bremen Castings and the Brown family who spearheaded the fundraising with an initial $6,000 worth of donations) and German Township (which gave $5,000), the $31,000 for the skilled animal is a little closer to being paid for. More donations are needed to invest in the program that will benefit the community in a number of ways. To learn more or to make a donation, call the department at 574-546-3456.