- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) - Richmond Police Department Officer Scott Glover served four years as a Marine K-9 handler, and now he’s eager to work with a RPD K-9.

But he needs a dog, and the police department needs $16,000 to pay for a dog and six weeks of training. Glover and the department are working to raise that money through donations.

“I’ve been going out to the community for the past couple of weeks to organizations and businesses seeking donations,” said Glover, who noted the department is accepting contributions of any size from anyone. “Every little bit helps to reach the $16,000. Each donation we get is greatly appreciated.”

Since Lt. Curt Leverton retired Marco on Jan. 1 after seven years, Leo and handler Officer Austin Lipps are RPD’s only K-9 team. They work second shift, leaving the first and third shifts without a K-9. Chief Jim Branum said Glover and his dog will work third shift.

“The ultimate goal would be to have one on each shift,” said Branum, adding that the timetable for that goal is two years.

Leo, who is in his fifth year of service, assists RPD in a variety of ways, Lipps said.

Leo recently found cocaine in a stopped vehicle, getting the drug off the streets. He also stopped a fight with just two barks after he and Lipps arrived on the scene of a call. He has tracked an armed robbery suspect’s path, locating evidence.

And Leo even once encouraged a bank robbery suspect hiding in an area of tall grass to surrender.

“All of a sudden, we’re going straight and Leo just jerks me to the right, and that’s where the guy jumped up and said, ‘I give up’ and the dog’s about a foot and a half away from him,” Lipps said.

The dogs are trained, with a tennis ball as the reward, to recognize the odors of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. Leverton said the dogs are so good they can locate the odor on a cotton ball that had sat inside a police narcotics canister before being hidden inside a vehicle.

Lipps said he and Leo will be called daily to utilize the dog’s skills, which can save officers time and keep them safe. Officers use the K-9 to locate narcotics, track and apprehend suspects and clear buildings.

?All that and Leo also lays down for tea parties with Lipps’ 5-year-old daughter, Emma.

“It’s awesome to see him be able to do what he does on the street and then come home and be as gentle as possible with a 5-year-old,” Lipps said. “It’s amazing.”

The dogs also make officers accessible to the public, especially children, whether around town or during demonstrations for schools or organizations.

“It invites communication between the public and the officers about lots of things,” Branum said. “The dog is an icebreaker.”

Lipps said citizens often know the dogs’ names but not the officers’.

“A lot of times when you’re at the park letting your dog take a break, throwing a ball with him, kids will come up and you’re letting them throw the ball with him or pet him and play with him, and they just love it,” he said.

Handlers and dogs spend 24 hours a day together, building a bond that is unbelievable, said Leverton, who has been a handler for 15 years, first with Rex and then Marco.

“It takes a special person to be a K-9 handler,” he said. “People think it’s fun and games, and it is. It is great to have that dog, but it’s a lot of work. It’s an absolute ton of work, and it’s constant. You have to work with the dog all the time, and Scott knows that. He’s been there and done that.”

Glover, who has helped Leverton and Lipps train with Marco and Leo, was the only applicant who entered the selection process to identify RPD’s next handler, Leverton said.

“He certainly is well-qualified, and that’s why we wanted him to train with us the last several years because one, he’s got the drive and desire for it, but he’s got the experience, too,” said Leverton, who explained that RPD’s K-9 officers conduct maintenance training every other Friday for their entire shifts.

As a Marine, Glover worked with dogs that sniffed out explosives and worked two more years as a consultant for the government’s training of dogs. He said the training procedures are the same as for RPD dogs, just with different odors.

“I’ve been helping the K-9 section for the past couple of years now with placing training aids and being a decoy and just helping out any way that I can,” Glover said. “(I was) waiting for the opportunity for the department to get another dog, and the time is finally here.”

After RPD raises the $16,000, the department will work with Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind., which is about midway between Indianapolis and South Bend, to select a dog and train Glover and the dog for six weeks. Courses begin every seven weeks.

“For me, when overseas, the ability to locate an explosive device and save people’s lives, that was a big thing,” Glover said. “For here, knowing that we’re able to help stop the flow of narcotics into town and locate people that run from us, are hiding from us, that’s a huge part of it. It’s just something that I love to do.”

Glover, who has two children, has a dog at home he trained for personal protection, partly because he missed that relationship.

“Since my time in the military doing it, it’s been a great passion of mine,” he said. “Being able to work with that dog, it’s just awesome. It really is.”

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Source: (Richmond) Palladium-Item, The http://pinews.co/1PPWxPi

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Information from: Palladium-Item, http://www.pal-item.com

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