SCF K-9 program leaps ahead
ST. CROIX FALLS – The effort to start a K-9 officer program at the St. Croix Falls Police Department has moved to the next level in recent weeks. The department has an officer partnered with a 2-year-old German shepherd from Czechoslovakia, and the two have started training that will last a total of three months.
In a press release Monday, April 6, the SCFPD introduced their new K-9 officer, Ikar, who is being partnered with SCFPD Officer Patrick Mariakas.
“K-9 Officer Ikar will be utilized for narcotics, criminal apprehension, officer safety calls, search and rescue, and tracking. Ikar will be a great asset to the police department, citizens and the surrounding communities near St. Croix Falls,” they stated.
In an effort going back over a year, the SCFPD and supporters have committed to private fundraising for the K-9 program, outside of taxpayer expense, including long-term veterinary and food maintenance, and even securing the purchase of a specialized canine-specific SUV, all without creating a burden on taxpayers.“All funds to date have been raised through the generosity of donors through the St. Croix Fall Police K-9 Association, some grants and special gifts,” the release noted. “To date, we have raised approximately $40,000 of the $50,000 goal. We will continue to raise additional funds that we need to be fully funded.”
According to the release, they are still needing to up-fit the SUV for Ikar’s service, including the installation of a specialized two-section rear seat apparatus and caging, keeping the dog safe but allowing prisoner transport, at an approximate cost of $2,600.
Other up-fitting in the works includes installation of a special $500 heat-sensing system for cooling fans on hot days, at $500. They are also working to have a so-called “bailout system” built in for $300, allowing the dog to be released remotely in an emergency or if the compartment gets dangerously hot.
The SUV requires other canine-specific upgrades, which they are hoping to cover with donations, hopefully even from outside the city, as the department is among the busiest municipal police departments in the area, being a border city with two major highways and a several big-box stores.
“The city continues to see a rise in drug arrests and related offenses. Our proximity to the Twin Cities serves as a pipeline for illegal drugs to the St. Croix Falls area. Those offenders are responsible for narcotics reaching our city and the surrounding area,” SCFPD Chief Erin Murphy wrote in his appeal for a K-9 program. “With the addition of a certified dual-purpose K-9, we can continue to make St. Croix Falls a safer place to live and raise a family.”
Officer Mariakas and Ikar will be training for several months but plan on being out and about, meeting the public this summer at events and for pictures.
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