Fundraiser aims to bring K-9 officer to Davenport PD

While on my internship at the Quad City Times, I wrote a feature story of the K-9 Dawn, who the Davenport Police Department was hoping to recruit. Davenport’s Modern Woodmen of America Chapter 26 partnered with the Davenport Police Department for its annual fundraiser in hopes of raising enough funds to donate a K-9 officer to the department’s Tactical Operations Bureau.

 

By Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin

Dawn would be used to combat illegal drugs

Dawn has always been restless.

The 18-month-old lab mix loves going under furniture, in cabinets and even on top counters – and she won’t stop until she gets what she wants.

Soon, her “drive” could save lives – by unearthing drugs and guns among other things -with the Davenport Police Department.

This year, Modern Woodmen of America Chapter 26 is partnering with the Davenport Police Department for its annual fundraiser in hopes of donating a K-9 officer to the department’s Tactical Operations Bureau, said Cody Kiroff, assistant counsel of the Rock Island-based Modern Woodmen.

The bureau, Kiroff said, previously indicated its need for a single-purpose drug dog to help counter local drug crimes. The tactical unit focuses on gang, prostitution, drug and gun crimes.

“There’s been a lot of crimes in the Quad-Cities recently, a lot of shooting and gang-related violence. And a lot of that stems from drug-related violence. So we have a pretty big drug problem,” he said. “Our community needed this, so we thought let’s put our money where our mouth is.”

In order to raise necessary funds, Chapter 26 will host a trivia night on July 22 at the Rock Island Holiday Inn. The group also is using a web platform called Generosity for its fundraiser, Kiroff said.

Through Generosity, the local chapter is hoping to raise $12,000, an amount that will cover the cost of the dog, training for the K-9 officer and its handler, associated costs such as food, veterinarian bills, indoor and outdoor crates, a fenced-in run and an armored vest, he said.

Dawn is the K-9 officer that Modern Woodmen hopes to bring to Davenport. She is one of many dogs trained at North Iowa K-9, a fully licensed company that trains police service dogs throughout the country.

Initially, Dawn was housed at a shelter in Virginia after her previous owners couldn’t deal with how energetic she was, said Paul Samuelson, Dawn’s handler at North Iowa K-9.

After seeing how “driven” she was, Samuelson decided to take on the training of Dawn. “My little diamond in the rough,” he said. Because of a dog’s acute sense of smell, Dawn is able to detect nine different illegal odors, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, to name a few, Samuelson said.

“From impartial package searches, to something going on in the mail, to a traffic stop in the car, to hotel and apartment door sniffs, there are just so many things these dogs can do when it comes to drug work,” he said.

Besides acting as “locating tools” during searches, K-9 officers also are social animals. Samuelson said K-9 dogs are very “influential in their community” and both children and adults love them.

“They don’t necessarily remember our names, but they sure as heck will remember that dog’s name,” he said. “They (dogs) are kind of like little rock stars because everybody knows them.”

Samuelson, who has been handling dogs for 17 years, added that K-9 dogs can be costly, with money necessary for both the well-being of the dog and its handler.Lt. Jason Smith,

Lt. Jason Smith, commander at the Davenport Police Department’s Tactical Operations Bureau, said having a K-9 officer is beneficial because it could be another “tool” to combat local drug trafficking.

“We’ll utilize the dogs on search warrants and drug investigations that we develop through the Tactical Operations Bureau at the unit,” he said.

According to the department’s 2014 annual report, the Bureau conducted 196 search warrants, recovered 89 guns and seized an estimated $3.2 million in illegal drugs and $307,470 in cash.

Smith said Davenport’s geographic location between big cities, such as Chicago, Des Moines and Kansas City, makes it an easier target for drug trafficking.
“We even see it (drug trafficking) through the mail system, UPS. The ease of transportation is very prevalent,” he said.

Smith noted that community members can assist law officers in combating drug violence by reporting drug crimes to officials, adding that “if you see something, say something.”

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