Berkley gets K-9 division started with $25,000 donation

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published July 30, 2021

 Officer Brian Anderson kneels beside the newest addition to the Berkley Public Safety Department, Bear. The department’s K-9 division got a big boost thanks to a $25,000 donation.

Officer Brian Anderson kneels beside the newest addition to the Berkley Public Safety Department, Bear. The department’s K-9 division got a big boost thanks to a $25,000 donation.

Photo provided by the Berkley Public Safety Department

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BERKLEY — The Berkley Public Safety Department has a new member, albeit a furry one.

Thanks to a hefty donation that the department received, it was able to establish its K-9 program and bring in its newest officer, Bear. The Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation made the donation of $25,000.

“We cannot thank the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation enough for their most generous $25,000 donation to our K-9 program,” Berkley Public Safety Director Matt Koehn said in a prepared statement. “We were simply flabbergasted when they contacted us with the news of their wishes to donate to our program. ... This donation had a huge impact on us meeting our initial funding goal, and we were very surprised to learn that a member of their board of directors is a resident of the city. We thank the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation for the support of our program.”

The K-9 program will consist of Bear; Officer Brian Anderson, who will be Bear’s handler; and Officer Dan Schewe, who previously was a K-9 handler for nine years. The department’s tasks for the K-9 unit are to track missing individuals and illegal substances; locate evidence and suspects; build bonds with the community; and form partnerships with neighboring communities.

Berkley had been looking to raise at least $30,000 for the K-9 program to cover the costs for the dog, the dog’s equipment, food, other equipment, the retrofitting of a vehicle for the K-9, training for the handler, medical contingencies, and unexpected costs for the vehicle. The department stated that it raised $65,338.11 for these costs and future operating costs in the years to come, thanks in part to donations from the foundation; local businesses The Blarney Stone and Camelot Cleaners, which each gave $7,000; the Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network, which gave $5,000; and John and Kristin Dumas, who gave $5,000.

“While the larger donations quickly helped us to achieve our initial goal, we are amazed by the outpour of donations made by our residents and the local community. We even had a few families in the City hold lemonade stand fundraisers,” Koehn said in a prepared statement. “These donations from our local businesses and residents really touched our hearts. ... We have also been contacted by another citizen who has committed to donating a K-9 medical kit and ballistic vest for Bear.”

Public Safety Lt. Jordan Kobernick said that Bear had his first day with the department on July 14. So far, there have been training days in which officers would take Bear on walks to track and find other officers.

The big aspect that the Public Safety Department has been pushing with Bear is his use in public outreach.

“With any animal, there’s always that fear of how it’s going to interact with kids,” Kobernick said. “Watching Bear with my own son, with kids in the community or just coming by the station or who happen to be walking by and will approach him, and he’s … got a great personality for kids.”

Kobernick said that just the approachability of having a dog is a win for the department.

“Anything on top of that is a bonus at this point,” he said. “It’s twofold. We’re a small community department; we recognize that. We do police, fire, EMS and we’re 2.5 square miles, and we ask our officers to drive around 2.5 square miles for 12 hours a day, and this gives an officer another opportunity they wouldn’t normally have in a small department.

“For me, it’s been perfect,” he continued. “It’s such a win, there’s a ton of people that have helped out behind the scenes, and it’s been a good thing. It’s been a morale booster for the community. It’s for the kids, for the officers. You can’t help but smile when you see it.”

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