Officers from the village of Mechanicsburg Police Department are seeking donations from the community to get a K9 unit to help fight the heroin epidemic.
Officers at the department recently formed a non-profit association, Officer Nickolous Black said, to accept tax-deductible donations. The group hopes to raise about $18,000, he said, to cover the cost to purchase the dog and train with an officer. Black would be the dog’s handler.
“We see that there’s a huge need for the dog,” he said. “We’ve seen our calls go up and our different case loads concerning drugs has gone up immensely over the last year.”
The village is a common route for drug dealers moving between Columbus and Dayton, he said, who want to avoid interstates. Several overdoses have happened in the village as well, he said.
Only one K9 unit is available to respond to calls in Champaign County, he said, with the Sheriff’s Office. That can make things difficult if the dog is tied up or off-duty, Black said.
The department looked at its budget to purchase the dog, he said, but other expenses, including a need for two new cruisers, meant funds weren’t available.
“It left us really with no budget,” he said.
Black said the K9 unit would be available to other agencies in the area as well.
“The sooner we can get the training started, the sooner we can be out helping other agencies and the community as a whole,” he said.
The dog will not only help with finding drugs, he said, but assist with finding missing persons as well as protecting officers.
The department has raised about a quarter of the money needed so far, he said. Black hopes to purchase the dog from a kennel in Germantown and begin training as soon as possible.
“The sooner the better because the drugs aren’t going anywhere,” he said. “It just keeps getting worse every year.”
Donations can be made by calling the Mechanicsburg Police Department at 937-834-2239 or mailed to 18 N Main St., Mechanicsburg.
“I will even come out to pick up the donation myself,” Black said.