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280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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City Police Revive K9 Program

In the beginning of 2020, the City of Williamsport and surrounding region will see a new police K9 unit. A dog named Tacoma, named after the Toyota brand truck, is a male mix of Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd. Tacoma and his handler, Tyson Minier, will be the first of potentially three K9 units. The

In the beginning of 2020, the City of Williamsport and surrounding region will see a new police K9 unit. A dog named Tacoma, named after the Toyota brand truck, is a male mix of Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd. Tacoma and his handler, Tyson Minier, will be the first of potentially three K9 units. The revival is due largely to the generous donation by Greg Ciocca, CEO of Ciocca Dealerships and the hard work and dedication of a small group of people.

According to Chief Daman Hagan of the Williamsport Bureau of Police, this program is a significant step toward increasing the level of physical safety for police officers and citizens in the Williamsport area.

The idea of reviving the defunct program began when Peter DiBartolomeo, current constable and former owner of Bart’s Pizza, approached Councilwoman Bonnie Katz. Councilwoman Katz then approached Chief Hagan. Officials then began having ad hoc meetings. Others were invited, including city officials and former K9 officers, to get an idea of what a program of this magnitude would entail.

It was decided that funding for the program should be made through private donations. “The Williamsport Bureau of Police believes that our new Canine (K9) program will bring us closer to the community, and that it is only appropriate that the beginning of such an important effort start with private funding from local citizens and businesses,” said Chief Hagan

After the announcement of the new K9 program, and the need for funding, Chief Hagan was contacted by Brian Lewis, general manager of the local Ciocca Toyota dealership. Mr. Lewis and the marketing director of Ciocca Dealerships, Christy Del Rio, then visited the Williamsport Bureau of Police (WBP). They advised that they wanted to make a donation in excess of $43,000. This generous donation will enable WBP to send PO Minier to training school and get the program off the ground early 2020.

Additional teams are expected to go though training in the future. Depending upon the success of fundraising efforts, the WBP aims to send their second K9 officer, Sgt. Brain McGee to the Shallow Creek K9 Academy in Sharpsville, Pa. sometime in 2020. Shallow Creek Kennels specializes in police service dog training and provides law enforcement agencies with police service dogs that are imported from Europe. In addition, if funds are available, the third K9 officer, P.O. Zachary Geary would be sent to Shallow Creek the end of 2020 or early 2021. P.O. Geary will be the officer involved with the explosives dog team.

The breakdown of approximate costs include $34,042.00 for the first team, $29,233.12 for the second team, and approximately $30,355 for the third team. The K9 academy for drug dog teams includes a cost of $14,500 for the procurement of a dog and for the training of the handler and dog. This also includes additional equipment, food, and housing of the officer during training. Other program costs include an expected $5000/year for maintenance training (8 hrs every two weeks), $1,400 to build a kennel at each K9 officer’s home, $700 per year for dog food for each dog, $1,700 for a bite suit, $632/year for standard veterinary bills (not including injuries), $450.00 for proper bite sleeves for training, $250 for an E Collar, and varying costs for other additional miscellaneous equipment.

P.O. Tyson Minier will begin the K9 academy with Tacoma on December 30, 2019. He is scheduled to graduate on January 31, 2020. The unit will then return to Williamsport and go through additional training with maintenance trainer, Timothy Karchnak, of the Muddy River K9 training company. Karchnak currently trains the K9 Unit for the Hughesville Police Department. He will evaluate the status of the first unit upon graduation and ensure its readiness for release to full-duty. Once the team is certified for street-use, P.O. Minier will deploy on-duty with Tacoma.

Long-term, the program aims to establish a WBP K9 Unit comprised of three separate teams – (1) Dual-purpose drug dog team assigned to the Night Watch (3:45 p.m. to 11:45 p.m.), (2) Dual-purpose drug dog team assigned to the Morning Watch (11:45 p.m. to 7:45 a.m.), and (3) Dual-purpose explosives (bomb) dog team assigned to Day Watch (7:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.). These teams would represent what the WBP once had: 24 hours of K9 Unit coverage. Both evening shifts will have the capability of drug searches along with patrol work. A capability especially vital in this modern era involving the increased presence of Heroin and Fentanyl.

According to Chief Hagan, a bomb dog team will allow the Bureau to properly respond to the ever-increasing need to search for firearms and explosives during bomb-threats and weapons-related criminal investigations, including shootings and homicides. The immediate presence of these capabilities will not only insure the quick apprehension of some fleeing suspects who might not otherwise be caught, but will also create a safer environment for citizens and officers.

“As we did in the past, as Hughesville PD does now, and South Williamsport PD did until recently, when another agency requests assistance through County Communications, a call is then made to the agency with that capability. Under the Municipal Police Officers Jurisdictional Act, this sort of request, if approved, is legal and acceptable. The WBP K9 Unit would be available to assist other nearby agencies based upon the need and request,” said Chief Hagan.

When asked for additional comment, Chief Hagan replied, “The Williamsport Bureau of Police would like to thank Mr. Ciocca and Ciocca Dealerships for their generous donation that has made this program possible. We would also like to thank Councilwoman Bonnie Katz and Peter DiBartolomeo for their leadership and vision in their pursuit to restart this program. Their efforts will inevitably save human life. In addition, the Williamsport Bureau of Police would also like to thank all members of the media who have shown such an interest in this program.”

People or companies that are interested in donating to the police K9 program should go to the Williamsport Bureau of Police Facebook page and look at the press release posted on November 1st. They will find a fundraising letter from Chief Hagan to the public with details about the program, and a K9 Unit donation form that should be filled out and sent in with a check (follow instructions on the form). In the memo donators are encouraged to donate to the WBP Canine (K9) Unit. When requests are any more specific, it limits what the funds can be used for and the money may not be usable for some time depending on the needs of the team.

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