Wanted: Vehicle for Westmoreland K-9 officer
When a woman allegedly made a vague comment about an explosive in her purse last week as she entered the Westmoreland County Courthouse, the police K-9 officer sprang into action.
In a few seconds of sniffing, Officer Rex determined the courthouse was not in danger.
“He's a valuable resource,” Chief Nick Caesar said when the 3-year-old Belgian Malinois detected no explosives in the woman's purse. “It's nice when we have him close by.”
The department hopes to raise enough money to provide Rex's handler, Officer William Meyers, with another valuable resource — a new vehicle. The pair's current outfit, a 2008 Ford Escape, doesn't have much room for the 80-pound dog, Meyers and equipment, including a portable X-ray unit.
“I have to leave (the unit in the courthouse), because there's no space in the car,” Meyers said.
Rex became the first K-9 officer on the county force in late 2012 through a Department of Homeland Security grant. A patrol vehicle was transformed to accommodate the dog, who is trained in gun and explosives detection, as well as human tracking and apprehension.
“It's really not a suitable operational vehicle for a K-9 unit,” Caesar said. “We need something reliable.”
Because K-9 programs can be expensive, Caesar said he promised the Westmoreland County commissioners that the added resource would not be a burden on the budget. The program is not in jeopardy, but the department hopes to purchase a vehicle next year as Meyers' is approaching 100,000 miles.
The cost of a completely outfitted Ford Explorer K9 vehicle is $32,300. About $2,000 has been donated toward the purchase.
“It's a community resource, and we're looking for the community to give us a hand,” Caesar said. “We have something very valuable, and we're sharing it.”
The current vehicle is not a “police interceptor” and doesn't have the braking and handling capabilities that are necessary in a high-speed response, Meyers said.
“The majority of these call-outs ... time is of the essence,” he said.
The vehicle might last about two more years, but a new one “would probably last as long as Rex is in service,” Meyers said.
Rex and Meyers provide support to every police agency in Westmoreland County and can help around the region as well.
Tracy L. Kruel, 37, of Greensburg, who allegedly made the comment about an explosive in her purse on Thursday while entering the courthouse, has been cited for disorderly conduct.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or email@example.com.
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.
- ‘Doc Hope’ eases into retirement from West Newton veterinary clinic
- Westmoreland County municipalities push to clean up litter, dumps
- Route 217 bridge work about to start in Derry Borough
- 2 Hempfield Area students charged with sexting
- Spirit Airlines lifts fortunes of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Traveling amateur organists entertain fellow seniors with oldies music
- Hempfield man dies in single-vehicle accident
- Land costs for New Stanton turnpike interchange project reach $4.2M
- 4 Democrats seek 3 nods for Latrobe council
- Donors’ generosity allows Clairview School girls to get fancy for prom
- Murrysville woman apologizes for scholarship fund theft