BRUNSWICK — The police force is looking to expand its K-9 unit.
Chief Brian Ohlin said start-up costs could reach about $25,000 to purchase and train a second dog as well as properly equipping police vehicles.
“It’s not in the budget,” he said.
To help the force acquire another dog, the Brunswick Citizens’ Police Academy Alumni Association has stepped up and is leading a series of fundraising efforts.
Association President Dan Sutliff has organized a GoFundMe campaign with a $5,000 goal. In two weeks, it has raised $385.
“They’ve got the ongoing cost covered, but it’s the start-up costs that are more difficult to get to,” Sutliff said.
On Sunday, the alumni association will host a pack walk and training event 11 a.m. to noon at Brunswick Lake. A $10 donation to participate is suggested to support a second Brunswick K-9 team.
Registration begins at 10:30 a.m.
Professional trainers from Columbia Dog Training, of Hinckley Township, and The Doggie Inn, of Grafton, will provide owners with training tips for their pups. Participants also can walk around the park on paved trails with other dog owners.
Only one dog per handler is encouraged, and retractable leashes are not permitted. Participants who do not have a dog also are welcome.
The association also has T-shirts for sale at www.bonfire.com/bcpaaa-k-9-campaign.
“We hope to have people come out and do what they can to help the community,” Sutliff said. “It’s everyone’s community, and we can all work together to make this a great place.
“Brunswick is a great place to live for families, and we want to keep it that way.”
Brunswick Officer Mark Luciano, paired with Nico, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, were certified by the state in April 2012 for patrol and narcotics work. Their primary functions include narcotic and drug detection, apprehension of fleeing criminals, tracking lost or fleeing individuals, building searches, article searches and crowd control.
Since 2014, the team has contributed to 228 arrests, and removed 474 caches of drug and other illegal substances from the city’s streets.
“They’ve worked together for a while, and they’re very effective together,” Ohlin said. “K-9s are used as an additional tool to drive our drug enforcement, especially as we see a rise in opiates and cocaine.”
But the team can provide only 40 hours of coverage a week and can’t be in two places at once.
“Nico and Luciano also support neighboring communities and police forces,” Sutliff said. “If they get called away, we still need a second team to stay in Brunswick and protect its citizens.”
If the department is granted the opportunity to recruit a second police dog, Ohlin said, its partner would be Officer Joe Ceccacci. He said the two would make a “perfect partnership,” as Ceccacci is the department’s drug recognition expert.
“(K-9s) are also a great community engagement tool for the department,” Ohlin said. “We can interact with kids, do demonstration at schools … it’s something people are interested in.”
Ohlin said he hopes to have another police dog on board by the end of the year.
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.