LEADWOOD – A nonprofit organization in Luzerne, Pa. is raising money to buy a bulletproof/slashproof vest for Leadwood’s new apprehension dog.
Fallen Officers Remembered has chosen Baily as its latest police dog focus for a protective vest. Baily is a 5 1/2-year-old German shepherd. She is trained in narcotics detection and tracking suspects, including ones who are armed. She works full-time with handler Larry Sanderson. The city began the canine program in May.
“Baily is used for apprehension and should only be wearing body armor (bulletproof vest) that protects her from ballistics and other weapons, such as knives or anything sharp,” said Jaclyn Pocceschi Mosley, president of Fallen Officers Remembered. Law Enforcement canines are so valuable to our communities and so much money is invested in purchasing and training them, that due to the dangers of their job, they too, need the only form of protection available to them.”
Fallen Officers Remembered raises money for protective vests for police officers across the country, human and canine, in order to help keep them safe on the job.
Body protection for Baily will cost approximately $725 through the nonprofit organization. Fallen Officers Remembered does not charge for its services, so all money raised for Baily’s vest will go toward the purchase.
Mosley and her sister started Fallen Officers Remembered after the death of their brother, Virginia Beach Officer Rodney F Pocceschi. At first, the sisters concentrated on providing new, fitted body armor for law enforcement officers in their own county.
“More than 70 percent of our law enforcement officers are only hired part-time and must work for two to five different police departments to try to make a 40-hour week,” Mosley said. Their pay is little over minimum wage … They are not provided with body armor and cannot afford it.”
Since then, the organization has provided vests for all the officers in more than 60 police departments in their county and a few outlying counties. After learning that thousands of police officers in the country do not have body armor, the sisters expanded to provide vests for police departments across the United States.
They added the dog gear because most K-9 units are a specialty unit, and food, medical and other expenses for the dog typically are covered by the handler, Mosley said
“There are more than 1,000 officers on our waiting list and thus far at least 30 to 40 canines waiting for donations, sponsorships, grants, etc.,” Mosley said. “We are working hard to gain nationwide awareness of the needs for our forgotten, taken-for-granted heroes who deserve to be protected while fighting the war on crime for us.”
Additional information about the organization is available online at http://www.fallenofficersremembered.org. Donations may be made on the website through PayPal. Checks can be made payable to Fallen Officers Remembered and sent to P.O. Box 2299, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18703, and you may request a receipt. Put Baily on the memo space of your check so it will be directed to that account.
The Leadwood Board of Aldermen “hired” Baily at their May monthly meeting after Leadwood Officer Larry Sanderson told them what Baily is trained to do as a police dog. Sanderson, a retired state patrol officer is a certified K-9 handler.
According to Sanderson, Baily is certified through Drug Beat / Lafollette K-9 training Center near Springfield The two have worked together for more than four years and have been involved in approximately 200 arrest for narcotics and tracking suspects for several area law enforcement agencies and have done school searches in four counties, he said.
“I am still working just for the love of these canines and the work within my community and in the hopes of making a difference,” Sanderson said.
The use of police dogs has grown rapidly over the past five years, Sanderson said.
“These heroes enforce public order by chasing, holding suspects, or detaining suspects,” he said. “The very presence of a police k-9 can prevent physical confrontations because a dog’s intimidating growl can cause many suspects to surrender instead of running or fighting. When a conflict does arise, these dogs are faster and stronger than most humans, able to catch a fleeing suspect and hold them until other police officers arrive.”
Dogs can be trained to detect illegal drugs, explosives or other items, as well as patrol work and urban tracking. Cost of a dog trained to do all those jobs can range from $12,000 to $15,000, depending on the length of each class, Sanderson added. However, the dogs are considered a specialty unit, because a department could be run without them.
According to the National Police Dog Foundation’s website, nationalpolicedogfoundation.org , 80 percent of a police department’s budget goes toward salary, and the remaining 20 percent is needed to acquire equipment and training for the officers. Most agencies cannot afford to include the cost of K-9s and their up-keep in the general budget.
A police dog faces the same, or greater, risk than human officers as they are often sent in ahead of their human counterparts to apprehend suspects or investigate dangerous situations. Protective vests are bulletproof and/or stabproof and minimize blunt trauma injuries.
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.