The Berkley Public Safety Department is looking to raise $30,000 to launch a K-9 program. The dog would be used for purposes including finding missing persons and building community relationships. Seen here is Dan Schewe’s K-9, Xander, from their time in Grosse Pointe Woods.

The Berkley Public Safety Department is looking to raise $30,000 to launch a K-9 program. The dog would be used for purposes including finding missing persons and building community relationships. Seen here is Dan Schewe’s K-9, Xander, from their time in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Photo provided by the Berkley Public Safety Department


Berkley Public Safety Department starting K-9 program

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 7, 2021

 Current Berkley public safety officer Dan Schewe poses with his K-9, Xander, during their time in Grosse Pointe Woods. Schewe will help bring a K-9 program to Berkley.

Current Berkley public safety officer Dan Schewe poses with his K-9, Xander, during their time in Grosse Pointe Woods. Schewe will help bring a K-9 program to Berkley.

Photo provided by the Berkley Public Safety Department

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BERKLEY — The Berkley Public Safety Department soon will be bringing a K-9 unit to the city, and is asking the community to invest in its new division.

The department is hoping to launch the division at the end of the month. In the meantime, the department is looking to raise $30,000 to support the unit.

According to police, the addition of a K-9 program will help track missing people, track illegal substances, locate evidence and suspects, build bonds with the community, and form partnerships with neighboring communities. Previously, Berkley has used K-9 help from Oak Park or Oakland County.

Lt. Jordan Kobernick said the K-9 unit would most often be used to find evidence, runaway suspects and missing persons. He related a story recently about a 5-year old child with autism who walked two blocks away from home and who police were able to later locate, but Kobernick said the process wouldn’t have taken so long if the department had a K-9.

“(If) you find one missing kid, I think the program’s done what it’s supposed to do,” he said. “The other side (of establishing a K-9 program) is obviously the community side. That’s really the focus for us, is bridging gaps with people, and everybody loves dogs. It gets our officers ... out of the car and talking with kids, and you become more approachable, I think, when you have tools like that as well.”

The K-9 division will consist of officer Brian Anderson, who will be the dog’s handler, and officer Dan Schewe, who previously worked as a K-9 handler for nine years.

Schewe was a handler in the cities of Inkster, Harper Woods and Grosse Pointe Woods with his dog, Xander. Out of his 23 years in law enforcement, he called those nine years with his K-9 the best he’s had as an officer.

“When I came to Berkley, they obviously knew what my resume was and they asked me about the potential of starting a program here,” he said. “I told them just because Berkley isn’t a high crime area or there isn’t a constant need for a dog on the night shift or even day shift for that matter, the dog has a huge involvement with community relations and they really liked that portion of it.

“It really helps the handler kind of bridge that gap between the Police Department and the community because everybody can relate to a dog, especially the younger kids that want to come up and pet him, and the dog’s approachable,” Schewe continued. “It just really helps bridge that gap.”

Schewe said being a handler is an everyday job, both when the officer is on duty and off duty. Because of the responsibility, the department focused a lot of attention on finding the right candidate to become the K-9’s handler.

“The dogs, they become very attached to the handlers,” he said. Schewe elaborated that if the initial handler backed out of the program, it would be hard for the dog to switch to another handler.

The K-9 program is expected to cost $31,279 at its start. The current breakdown of costs lists $15,389 total for the dog and its equipment, food and other supplies; $7,590 for the retrofitting of a vehicle for the K-9; and $1,300 for training the officer. A $7,000 contingency would also cover any unexpected medical or vehicle costs. Police added that donations from this fundraiser will carry over into future operating years for the program.

Kobernick said the department is asking for donations because, while the K-9 program is a luxury, he feels it would give people in the department more challenges and opportunities than they normally would get in a small agency.

“We understand it’s a luxury, and that’s why we went the donation route and not through taxpayer funds, because we feel it’s a necessity but also a luxury, and it’s the kind of thing that I think ... if it’s important to the community, they’ll obviously show that through donations, and I think that’s what they’re showing now,” he said.

As of April 5, the Berkley Public Safety Department has raised $7,704, which it expressed its happiness with. It’s hoping to get the program running by the end of April.

For anyone interested in learning more about the K-9 program, visit www.berkleymich.org/departments/public_safety/k9_program.php. People can donate online at fundly.com/berkley-k9-public-safety-fundraising, or by visiting the Berkley Public Safety Department at 3338 Coolidge Highway to drop off a check with “K-9 Fund” on the memo line.

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