Harper Woods police dog to get his own body armor

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published November 10, 2017

 Kaiser, the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety police dog, will be getting a new set of K-9 body armor to protect him on the job thanks to members of the community and his handler, Officer Stephen Johnson, pictured.

Kaiser, the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety police dog, will be getting a new set of K-9 body armor to protect him on the job thanks to members of the community and his handler, Officer Stephen Johnson, pictured.

Photo by Sean Work

HARPER WOODS — Body armor is crucial to keeping law enforcement safe on the job, and that includes those on four legs.

Kaiser, the police dog for the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety, will be getting outfitted with specially made canine body armor that will keep him safe while in the line of duty.

“This is just for safety. He can go into high-risk situations,” said Officer Steven Johnson, the department’s K9 officer. “This includes confronting a suspect with a knife or gun that he may have to apprehend. There’s been nothing too exciting for Kaiser yet on the job, but he’s been on the job for a year now and he just turned 2 years old. … We want to keep him safe.”

Obtaining the vest became a reality thanks in part to Grosse Pointe Shores resident Sharon Peters, who has been one of the primary supporters of restarting Harper Woods’ K-9 program during the last two years.

“Sharon Peters is a Grosse Pointe Shores resident. She found out about our program through the Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Association, and she heard about us and reached out to us shortly before I got Kaiser and has been helping out ever since,” said Johnson. “It was through Sharon Peters, who has worked with the company before to get police dogs body armor, so we went through the application process to get the vest.”

Peters had experience obtaining protective vests like Kaiser’s for police dogs, and she worked with Johnson to apply for the specially created equipment.

“Sharon Peters has provided vests for a number of police agencies, and we would like to thank her for her continued help. We’re so appreciative,” said James Burke, chief of the Harper Woods Department of Public Safety. “This whole K-9 project has been volunteer- and donation-based in raising money, and it’s really brought the community together.”

In the year that Kaiser has been with the department, he and Johnson have performed a number of tasks, and Burke said they have been a major asset in performing their duties and connecting with local residents.

“We do a lot of public relations events like showing up at school, routine patrols through the community, and he can detect narcotics and help with building searches and track suspects or missing individuals,” said Johnson.

As police dogs can be used to help apprehend suspects, they can sometimes be put in harm’s way. Providing them with protection can be lifesaving for the dogs.

“It’s a ballistic vest as well as stab-proof,” explained Johnson. “I’ve definitely heard of police dogs being saved on the job because of vests like this one.”