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HOMER CITY BOROUGH: Council seeks funding for canine police officer

by on June 04, 2014 10:55 AM

HOMER CITY — A K-9 unit could be in the future of the Homer City Police Department.

During Tuesday’s meeting, borough council approved seeking funding for a police dog to be used both in Homer City and throughout Indiana County as part of the District Attorney’s Drug Task Force.

The funding request was made by Sgt. Tony Jellison, of the police department.

There is “a need for narcotics control and patrol in Indiana County. … With all of the drugs that are coming through the county, it’s going to be a major help,” he told council members.

Implementation of the program throughout the county will have to be approved through the district attorney’s office.

In order to implement the unit, Jellison said it will cost about $3,500 to outfit a vehicle whose back would be two-thirds space for the canine and one-third for transportation if an arrest is made, with pop-open doors and a heated floor. Other costs would include veterinary bills, insurance, food and grooming as well as the purchase of the dog itself, plus training.

Overall, the cost would be more than $21,000, Jellison said.

In a letter to local businesses asking for donations, Jellison wrote that “canine officers and their partners have proven to be effective in locating contraband that may otherwise go undiscovered by the ordinary patrol officers.”

The letter also said that the canine unit the Homer City Police Department plans to deploy would be trained to track people, ranging from a missing child to a wanted criminal, and would conduct field searches and search buildings.

In addition, having a dog on the force can assist with officer safety, he said.

“Having a canine around, just the presence of a canine, crime will be deterred,” Jellison said. “If someone takes off running and you say, ‘Stop, (I’m) going to let the canine loose,’ they’ll stop.”

The only other K-9 unit in Indiana County is handled by the Indiana County Sheriff’s Department.

If the program is approved by the district attorney, Jellison will go through a 10-week training period with the canine at Shallow Creek Kennels, a police service dog importing and training facility in Sharpsville. The dog would be purchased through this facility, which specializes in training three breeds as fully trained dual- and single-purpose police service dogs: Belgian Malinoises, German shepherds and Dutch shepherds.

Jellison will care for the dog and keep it at his home, where it will be available for service 24 hours a day. So far, Jellison said, he has received “outstanding” feedback from numerous businesses around Homer City.

Anyone who would like to make a monetary contribution to the unit may send a check to the Homer City Police Deparment K-9 Unit Fundraiser, 30 E. Wiley St., Homer City, PA 15748.

Jellison can be contacted at (724) 479-9190 regarding questions or comments during normal business hours, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.



Ellen Matis is the digital media coordinator and a staff writer at The Indiana Gazette. She is the person behind the Gazette's social media. A 2012 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ellen has a degree in journalism and public relations. Follow her on Twitter, @EllenMatis, or email her at ematis@indianagazette.net.
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