By Rick Wills
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
NEW SEWICKLEY, Pa. — New Sewickley police have never had a canine police officer but will by the end of the year.
"It will be a big help for our department," Chief Ron Leindecker said.
The department is one of nine recipients of grants from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. The money will go to start K-9 units, maintain existing ones, purchase safety vests for the dogs, buy training equipment and food, and equip K-9 patrol vehicles.
The grants, totaling $77,000, are going to Forest Hills, Washington, Edinboro, North Fayette and Martins Ferry, Ohio, police; Eureka Fire Rescue EMS in Tarentum; the Jefferson County Drug Task Force; and UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland.
New Sewickley's grant is for $10,000, which Leindecker said will cover about three quarters of the cost to buy a dog and train its handler.
"It's not cheap to start a canine program," he said.
The department has nine full-time and seven part-time officers who patrol a relatively rural township of 32 square miles, including wooded areas where suspects can flee on foot.
"Those are situations where canine officers would be really useful," Leindecker said.
The Roethlisberger Foundation this week announced a grant to Pittsburgh police to help fill the void left when K-9 Officer Rocco was killed in the line of duty.
North Fayette police Chief Mark O'Donnell expects his department's canine program to grow as a result of its Roethlisberger grant.
"The foundation's assistance will provide an integral role in the development of our newly started canine program," O'Donnell said.
The grants constitute the seventh round that the foundation has awarded to benefit canine units. It was established when a police dog was shot and killed in the Steelers quarterback's hometown of Findlay, Ohio.
"He's always been a big fan of animals. He grew up with them. He sees canine officers while traveling in areas where there is security," said Jessica Duffaut, relationship manager for The Giving Back Fund.
Copyright 2014 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
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