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Council approves Smithton officer's pet project

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:02 p.m.

Smithton Council has given the go-ahead for police Officer Mike Mace to pursue all available avenues with the intent to add and sustain a canine officer with the Smithton Police Department at no cost to the borough.

Mace presented a proposal to council Monday night and fielded some questions from council members.

Throughout he emphasized that he intends to ensure that the borough incurs no or minimal cost with regard to the acquisition and care of the police dog.

Mace said he is investigating grants and various sources of possible donations. He also said he will be taking his campaign for a canine officer to the citizens of Smithton.

“I'm going to go out into the community, go door to door, by myself, in uniform and hand out fliers, explaining this is what we're trying to do — trying to grow a department into more modern policing,” he said.

Mace talked about some of the benefits of a canine officer including enhancing officer safety, drug enforcement and prevention, and public relations.

He referred to the recent case of Pittsburgh canine officer Rocco giving up his own life protecting the life of his handler.

He said that having a canine officer would help deter drug dealing in the borough and would be key in making drug-related arrests.

He also said that having a canine unit would make the Smithton Police Department more attractive to municipalities that might be interested in contracting for police coverage.

Councilwoman Karen Primm noted that the proposal set forth some initial outlay amounts and asked what the ongoing costs might be.

Mace said he would be looking to have food and veterinary care donated as well as all the initial costs, which would include a vehicle in addition to the dog.

Mace said that while the dog would be his partner and would reside with him, the dog would be the property of the borough.

Both Mace and the canine officer would be on call 24/7 to assist any other Smithton officer, Mace said.

Council was unanimous in its support of the project; with Councilman Robert Prah Jr. absent.

In other business, Bud Seglowich's report on the activity of the road crew over the last month indicated that the crew plowed and/or salted 29 times and used 115 bags of salt since Jan. 6.

Council President Dan Barthels reported that the finances were in good shape, but noted that the cable franchise payment came in about $400 less than what was budgeted.

Bob McKeown of Keystone Gas Solutions, the new owner of the former brewery property which he has converted into a water filling station for companies doing fracking, was present to get whatever feedback council was offering since the first water trucks started using the facility last week.

He said about 100 trucks had gone in and out by Monday's meeting. No one on council had received any complaints.

McKeown said he would continue to attend council meetings when he is able and reiterated his pledge to be a good neighbor and part of the community.

William S. Zirkle is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bzirkle@tribweb.com or 724-872-6800.

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