After years without any canines on the department, the Oakdale Police Department is preparing to add another four-legged crime fighter to its ranks.
Courtesy of another Steves Chevrolet donation, this time $15,800, the police department will be able to purchase and train another German Shepherd-Belgium Malinois mix as well as equip another police canine vehicle for use.
In making the request for authorization to the city council, Lieutenant Keri Redd told city officials that the department is currently down to 18 full-time police officers and nine reserve officers.
Lt. Redd said patrol teams are generally staffed with one sergeant and two officers and have fairly high call volumes on both day and night shifts. A second canine unit would give the department equal coverage throughout the week and on its “cover shift.”
“This would be of great assistance to patrol teams since a canine is much like a two person unit and is far superior at building searches and capturing suspects that are resisting or fleeing,” Lt. Redd said.
The new dog, which is yet to be given an official name pending a public naming contest, will be assigned to Officer Blake Ebert. The dog currently is in the “bonding process” with Officer Ebert and will start training this week with Ron Kloward of Top Dog Police K9 Training and Consulting of Modesto.
Ebert was out with his new canine, with the temporary name “Daro” on Thursday, April 24 practicing building searches with the department’s other canine and Officer Andy Stever.
“We just got out of a training session and he’s doing really good,” said Ebert. “He has a good sense for tracking.”
The resurrection of the department’s canine program that had been cut in 2006 was made available through nearly $25,000 in local donations last year when the department brought aboard Chevy.
Steves Chevrolet was instrumental to the resurrection when it donated $16,000 to the department last summer for the purchase and training of the dog as well as made available at a low cost a two-wheel drive Chevrolet Tahoe from its used fleet to be specially equipped as that canine and handler’s patrol vehicle.
The recent donation of $15,800 will go toward the $10,300 cost for the new dog, covering training costs.
Jeff Steves, owner of Steves Chevrolet has been vocal about the use of police canines stating that using the dog would be safer for the officers and would prevent on the job injuries in potentially hazardous situations.
“I’m excited to be able to do this for our department,” Steves said. “There’s so much these canines can do to keep the officers protected.”
Steves credits the idea for the second police dog donation to his wife, Margaret, during a conversation they had regarding the success of Chevy.
“She’s really concerned about the gang problem rising in town,” Steves said.
Steves said he wanted community input in naming the dog and will start a contest in a few weeks.
A police dog is such a positive thing for the community and I wanted their involvement too,” Steves said. “It also gives the officers a reason to stay with our department and not leave.”
The contest would include the more common names received, that would have a Chevrolet theme, to be entered in a bin by number of votes and a winner would be drawn later.
Steves said that the winning person will be part of the dog’s swearing-in ceremony and receive various gifts from the dealership.