Southwest Regional will bolster department by adding K-9 unit
By Rick Bruni Jr.
Published: Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 1:46 a.m.
The Southwest Regional Police Department will soon welcome a new addition, and for Officer Dave Hromada, it's been a long time coming.
The department will acquire its first-ever police dog next week, and Hromada – who once handled a dog for the Fayette County Drug Task Force – can't wait to work with a four-legged partner again.
“I had a Dutch shepherd and, unfortunately, she passed away unexpectedly on Christmas Day in 2009,” said Hromada, an eight-year Southwest veteran. “What I've strived for my entire career was handling K-9s, so it's been a long wait.”
Hromada is scheduled to go to Lone Wolf Kennels in McClure, Ohio, Oct. 19 to finish bonding with Kyros before the pair return to the Valley as partners.
“I'm already trained, and he's already trained, so it's all about getting familiar with each other,” Hromada said. “It is a special bond, and you can't put it into words unless you experience it.”
Kyros – which is Greek for “leader” – is a 2 1/2-year-old German shepherd. He weighs 93 pounds and is certified in drug detection, tracking, criminal apprehension, crowd control and article searches.
The process has been painstaking for Southwest Chief John Hartman, who gained approval from his police board more than a year ago. Because the department covers a large area – 94 square miles with 15,000 people – Hartman saw the addition of a K-9 officer as being common sense.
The plan is for Kyros to be sworn-in and on the streets by month's end.
“‘Enhance' is the best word I could use for employing a dog. It gives you a better edge in fighting crime. And with the trend we see occurring, the K-9 becomes a tool we feel we needed and the board felt we needed,” Hartman said. “A dog clearly can do more than a uniformed officer when you're dealing with drugs, trafficking and even school searches.”
The addition of Kyros has been years in the making, Hartman said. And as Southwest's coverage area has expanded, so has the need for a police dog.
“We all live in a land of limited resources, but sometimes you get to a point where you have to have those internal capabilities and say, ‘Really, we should be responsible with this ourselves,'” Hartman said.
“Police have always been hurt, and criminals have always run. Police are getting hurt a lot more, and suspects are running a lot more. Just (based on) the basic logistics, a dog can run faster than a human being. We intend on employing him actively.”
Hartman and Hromada want Kyros to interweave himself into the community.
“He's not just there to jump out of a car and chase people,” Hromada said. “People think we're police officers all the time, and they do the same with police dogs. But we have home lives.
“When the dog goes home, he's just a pet trying to run around and get attention. That's part of what we want to show with Kyros.”
Hartman intends to produce a blog on which children can interact with the dog and ask him questions. The chief will “translate.”
“I want to reach out and let people know that this dog is theirs, and he's there to help them,” Hartman said. “Kids can say, ‘Hi Kyros, what did you do today?' and he can tell them. There's a connection you can make. I can tell you, there's been an overwhelming response to our getting this dog, and it's all positive.”
So far, Southwest Regional has received donations from private companies, citizens and municipalities. Hartman noted a disabled woman who sent a letter lamenting that she wished she could give more than her $5 donation.
Installing a K-9 officer can be costly. The dogs cost $2,500 to more than $10,000. Then there's officer training and a K-9 vehicle. Southwest Regional is converting a Ford Explorer for that purpose.
“You don't just put a dog in the back of a car. You have to seriously upgrade your vehicle with air conditioning, tinted windows and install the kennel portion,” Hartman said. “It's well worth it. He's going to be the K-9 for the entire region, so he's going to be a very busy guy.”
Donations to the K-9 fund can be mailed to 212 State St., Belle Vernon, PA 15012, or by calling 724-929-8484.
Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-684-2635.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins stave off Ducks’ shooting barrage to win in shootout
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- Steelers restructure Brown’s contract to become salary cap compliant
- Pirates seek to tap Alvarez’s remaining upside
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
- Trade to Penguins caps frenetic period for winger Stempniak
- Derry’s Phillippi upset in PIAA quarterfinals
- Web of surveillance videos helps ensnare suspect in East Liberty slayings
- Man to face DUI-homicide trial for Route 28 wreck
- Unity woman loses appeal of DUI conviction
- Ex-tow truck operator says Pittsburgh officer, city put him out of business