This holiday season, Beaver Township is thank-ful for a new police dog — and, in a way, for the criminals who paid for him.
Hero, a 90-pound German shepherd, hit the streets with Officer Chris Albert in late October. Chief Carl Frost said the dog was purchased using seized and forfeited funds from criminal investigations.
The total cost of the dog, training and equipment was about $15,000, Frost said.
Albert, a Beaver Township officer since 2005, is a first-time police-dog handler.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said.
Beaver Township first got a police dog, Barkley, in 1998. After Barkley, police dog Kaz joined the force and served until his retirement in May. Both dogs were handled by Lt. Dan Lewis.
“We’re so used to having a dog that we missed it when we didn’t have one,” Frost said.
He said local police departments take care of one another and try to share resources.
“If there’s a dog out on the road, it can save another department from calling their own canine officer out on overtime,” Frost said.
Albert and 2-year-old Hero trained for six weeks in September at Lynnwoods Kennels in Fremont, Ohio.
“We learned how to do narcotics searches, tracking, article [evidence] searches and apprehension,” Albert said.
Hero also was trained in “reasonable force.”
“The suspect will determine if he gets bit. If I say, ‘Stop, stop,’ and they do, Hero will circle the suspect. If they move, he will act,” Albert said.
Hero responds to Dutch commands because it was the first language he was trained in, and this way, he won’t get confused if Albert gives commands to a suspect.
“Since starting, we’ve done several drug sniffs and tracked a suspect in Wellsville when we were called to assist,” Albert said.
Frost said the police dog also has sniffed cars in hotel parking lots in the township.
Both Albert and Frost said the police dog helps deter crime, too.
“People know about the dogs, and criminals know about the dogs. We have a lot of crime related to drugs, and now people know we can do drug sniffs and track suspects,” Albert said.
Hero and Albert are continuing their training with other police-canine units through Mahoning County.
“It’s work to us but play to him. Play is like his paycheck,” Albert said.