Lake Oswego Police Department's K9 Officers Chase and Szemi will soon receive potentially life-saving body armor thanks to a charitable donation from the nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s Inc.
LOPD Lt. Darryl Wrisley says the bullet- and stab-resistant vests, embroidered with the words "In memory of K9 Rocco, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police," are expected to arrive within four to six weeks.
K9 Chase, a German Shepherd from Slovakia, hit the street in late 2016 after completing an extensive six-week training program and receiving state certification with Officer Bryan McMahon. He was soon joined by K9 Szemi (pronounced sem-ee), a German Shepherd from Hungary, who completed his training with Officer Brandon Clausen and received state certification in early 2017.
Chase and Szemi were hand-selected by the LOPD from Von Liche Kennels in Indiana. Chase was 18 months old when he joined the LOPD; at 14 months old, Szemi became the department's youngest member.
K9 teams play a unique role with the LOPD. The dogs increase suspect apprehensions with their tracking ability and can defuse stressful situations just because of their presence; they also help in the search for missing persons. But they also play a key role in public education efforts and are often seen at local events and schools.
Since it was established in 2009, Vested Interest in K9s has given more than 2,600 protective vests to law enforcement agencies in all 50 states through private and corporate donations. A $950 donation covers the cost of one vest, although each is valued at $1,744-$2,283. The vests, which weigh between 3-5 pounds, come with a five-year warranty.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s provides information, lists events and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.
— The Review