‘We’re proud to be able to help and be a part of it’
By Charley Hanney (Originally published in the Ozaukee County News Graphic)
It appears K9 Djuke will soon have another partner on the force, as the Mequon Police Department received a $19,000 donation from the Mequon-Thiensville Community Foundation for the purchase and training of a K-9 dog.
The city of Mequon’s Common Council Aug. 8 approved MTCF’s $15,000 donation for the new K-9 and training — beginning in October at Campbellsport’s Steinig Tal Kennel — and its $4,000 donation for K-9 handler equipment/ services. The city’s Financial Policy requires that all donations exceeding $5,000 must be approved.
“Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Mequon and Thiensville, and this is just one of many ways that we do that,” said MTCF Director and Past President Jim Button, who is the foundation’s grantee liaison for the K-9 restricted fund. “We know the value a K-9 brings to the community from many perspectives. From diffusing a situation that might otherwise turn bad to drug interdiction to finding a missing person, it’s an extremely important program within our community and we’re proud to be able to help and be a part of it.”
The MTCF, which has specific dedicated funds available for Mequon’s K-9 program, has funds available to not only cover the initial startup costs, but additional annual costs over the next few years as well.
According to information provided by Police Chief Patrick Pryor, having two police K-9s ensures that there is always a K-9 unit available during the second shift, which is from 4 p.m. to midnight. This ensures consistent road coverage and enhances the overall effectiveness of the K-9 program.
Additionally, “having an experienced K-9 on the road while training a new K-9 allows for the transfer of knowledge and skills and ensures the continued success of the program,” Pyror added.
The newest addition will fill the position previously held by K-9 Iron, who retired in March. Iron was deployed over 1,000 times throughout his career for a wide variety of assignments, including vehicle drug sniffs, locating suspects or missing people, school drug sniffs and public relations. He assisted with over 400 arrests and located 16 suspects that had fled from officers.
With the donation accepted, the department will move forward with selecting a K-9 handler from existing staff within the Patrol Division. Pryor notes that this officer will still be assigned a regular shift and count as staffing for the department patrol staffing requirements.
The K-9 squad (vehicle) that was associated with Iron will also be re-used and is now available to bring in a new K-9.
The city’s K-9 unit was founded in 2006 after resident Dave Delahunt and others started Project K-9 to help fund the group. Handler John Hoell (now captain) and his partner Vero were Mequon’s first K-9 unit squad. Djuke, who was fully funded by the MTCF, joined the department in 2020.