By joe gorman
Police Chief Rod Foley hasn’t just added new officers to the department.
He’s also adding new dogs — three to be exact, to augment the two the department already has.
The officers and their dogs have been training for the last six weeks at Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, Pa., where training for several departments’ police dogs takes place.
Foley said with five dogs, the department should have enough to help the patrol division by having enough handlers to juggle days off. He said ideally the dogs would operate from 8 a.m. to 2 or 3 a.m.
The officers and their new partners are expected to be on the road beginning Monday, Foley said.
The officers who have been training with their dogs are Nick Bailey, Martin Stachowicz and Jessica Shields.
The current police dog handlers are Mike Anderson and Joshua Kelly, who have worked their dogs since the department starting using police dogs in 2007.
Foley said the prime mission for the officers with dogs is to look for drugs, which he said are the reason for most crime in the city.
“That’s kind of the fuel that keeps the engine running,” Foley said.
Since Foley has become chief in September 2011, he has added 28 new officers to the force. All three of the new police dogs are part of that hiring wave.
The department did have four dogs, but one of the handlers, Lt. Frank Rutherford, no longer has his dog with him after he was promoted to detective sergeant earlier this year. The other officer, Ron Jankowski, is on medical disability.
Foley said officer training is more focused on getting them used to the dog and vice versa, because the dogs already are trained to search for drugs and other items by the time they are matched up with an officer.
“The dog is pretty much trained when they get it,” Foley said. “They just need to learn how to use the dog.”