K-9 to receive bulletproof vest

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 6, 2015

 Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department K-9 officer Xander will receive a ballistic vest through Vested Interest in K9s Inc.

Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department K-9 officer Xander will receive a ballistic vest through Vested Interest in K9s Inc.

Photo provided by the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — A nonprofit organization has taken extra measures to improve the safety of the Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department’s K-9 officer, Xander.


The department has been awarded a ballistic vest through Vested Interest in K9s Inc., a nonprofit organization located in East Taunton, Massachusetts. The charitable group’s mission is to provide bullet- and stab-protective vests and other assistance to dogs in law enforcement and related agencies throughout the U.S.


Xander, a German shepherd certified in tracking suspects, missing persons and narcotics, has been with the department since April, and works with partner and public safety officer Dan Schewe.


“He is used for missing children, fleeing suspects and anything narcotic-related in a house or vehicle,” Schewe said. “He would be used for tracking purposes to follow the human odor.”


“If we had a lost child, a lost adult with special needs or Alzheimer’s, the dog could track those people. That’s critical,” Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Director Bruce Smith said. “If a suspect takes off running, the dog can track it and help us apprehend (the suspect). Suspects can be found by scent so much quicker.” 


Xander also is used to search buildings that have been broken into, and he can search for illegal drugs, Smith said.


“The dog has found money and drugs. Sometimes the drugs are so well-hidden. (The dog’s) sense of smell is tens of thousands of times better than a human being’s,” Smith said. “You can’t fool the dog.”


Xander also protects his handler, Smith said.


The dog attends many community events. Through a mutual aid agreement, the dog helps the Harper Woods Public Safety Department and the other Grosse Pointe public safety departments.


“He has a very good temperament,” Schewe said. “He’s great with kids.”


Schewe explained how the vest works.


“It will cover his vital organs. It’s a great tool for him to have. I want to protect him as much as possible. It is a little added insurance,” Schewe said. “It will protect him in case a suspect fires at him.”


The German shepherd and Schewe — who both underwent a 13-week training program and continue to train two days a month — previously worked for the Inkster Police Department until 2012, when the pair was laid off.


Along with tracking odors, Xander is trained to respond to Schewe’s commands while on patrol. If a suspect is not obeying, Schewe might command Xander to bite or bark to get the suspect to comply.


“He’s got a certain command by the tone of my voice,” Schewe said.


One of the bigger incidents for Schewe and Xander recently was a car crash near Interstate 94 and Harper Avenue in Harper Woods that resulted in a vehicle overturning. According to Schewe, the driver who caused the crash got of his car and ran.


Xander followed the driver’s scent, and the suspect was found hiding in the bushes in a backyard. Schewe said that everyone involved in the accident was OK.


Schewe has been in law enforcement for 17 years, and he said that working as a K-9 unit is “the most rewarding position.” Off duty, the pooch, who hails from the Czech Republic, lives with Schewe and his family.


“It’s a lot of extra work,” he said. “It pays off in the long run.”


Since its inception in 2009, Vested Interest in K9s Inc. reportedly has provided more than 1,550 protective vests in 49 states through private and corporate donations, at a cost of more than $1.4 million. All vests are custom made in the U.S. by Armor Express in Central Lake, Michigan.


The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 19 months of age. New K-9 graduates, as well as K-9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.


The suggested donation to provide one protective vest for law enforcement K-9 is $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795 and $2,234 and comes with a five-year warranty. The vests weigh 4-5 pounds.


For more information about Vested Interest in K9s, please call (508) 824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s is on the Web at www.vik9s.org.


According to information provided through the charitable group, the vest was sponsored by Sharon Peters, of Grosse Pointe Shores, and Xander’s vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “In Memory of Det. Lt. Richard J. Scott.”


According to an obituary on the website www.findagrave.com, Scott was a detective lieutenant and ran the intelligence bureau for the Roseville Police Department until he retired in 1987. The U.S. Air Force veteran was the father of seven children, including Peters.


The obituary states that Scott passed away Sept. 5, 2010, of a blood disorder. He was 79. He also was survived by 29 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, the website states.

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