Funds multiply for Derry K-9 officer's new vehicle
A frenzy of recent fundraising activity helped the Derry Borough Police Department move closer to finalizing the purchase of a new vehicle for its K-9 officer, Blade.
Police Chief Randy Glick told borough council members at their April 13 meeting that he had more than $20,000 to put toward the purchase of a 2014 Ford Interceptor utility police vehicle to replace the department's 2006 Ford Explorer.
“The ‘check engine' light was on (in the Explorer) earlier today, and I got really excited later today because it went off again,” Glick said. “Anytime that happens, I'm pretty excited about that.”
At the meeting, borough council approved using Act 13 funds to cover the remaining $8,390 cost of purchasing the vehicle and outfitting it for police use.
“Any small-town police chief that can go out and earn that amount of money in one week, I definitely have to give a pat on the back,” Mayor David Bolen said. “That's pretty good.”
The New Alexandria Ag 4-H Club's spaghetti dinner fundraiser on April 6 generated $5,000 toward the vehicle purchase.
“We were just shooting to feed 200 to 300 people and hoping that we made $1,000, in all honesty,” club leader Dawn Dancey said. “We didn't have a goal. We were all surprised. The meter we had that the kids had drawn up — the thermometer-looking thing that they do for fundraisers — was only up to $2,000, and we hoped we'd go halfway. We had to keep adding paper to the top of it through the day.”
Latrobe chiropractor Anita Bigo — instrumental in the Latrobe Police Department's 2011 purchase of their K-9 officer, Rocky — donated $5,000 toward the vehicle.
“I think that it's an important cause and reason that we should have these dogs because they do save lives,” Bigo said. “Look at Rocco in Pittsburgh. He saved three lives, and he gave his.”
Glick said District Attorney John Peck has pledged $10,000 seized by the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force toward the vehicle under the state's Controlled Substances Forfeitures Act.
The department has a quote for the vehicle from Tri-Star Motors, but the aluminum kennel for inside the back of the vehicle must be ordered from a company in Florida and will be installed after the vehicle is purchased.
“I think it's going to probably take a couple weeks to get it purchased and get it here, switch out the equipment out of the old truck into the new truck and get the kennel delivered from American Aluminum, being that they're in Florida,” Glick said.
Most of the equipment for the 2006 Explorer can transfer to the new Interceptor, but changes to the interior of the vehicles starting with 2010 models necessitated the purchase of a new kennel, Glick said. The department will try to coordinate the vehicle purchase and “upfit” work to cause as little downtime as possible, since Blade won't be able to ride safely in the department's other vehicles.
“You can't ride them in a regular police car because of the possibility of injury,” Glick said. “The regular police cars have a plastic back seat, a prisoner seat, and it's really slippery. If you go around a bend, the dog could slide across the back seat.”
Glick said Derry Area School District planned to hold a “Hat Day” on April 17, when students could pay $1 to wear a hat during school and teachers could pay $5 to wear jeans, with the proceeds going to the police department.
Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or firstname.lastname@example.org.