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K-9

April 23, 2019 - 1:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in K-9, Batavia PD, batavia, news, notify.

It's been about two decades since Batavia PD had a dog patrolling the city with a qualified handler, but that could change if Federal asset forfeiture funds become available.

Chief Shawn Heubusch is asking the City Council to approve a memo of understanding with Homeland Security for the Federal agency to pay for the purchase and training of a K-9 and handler to work in the City of Batavia.

The new K-9 and its handler would be a member of the Batavia police force but on-call if Homeland Security needed K-9 officers for an operation.

Once the MOU is signed, it becomes a waiting game for funds to become available. Currently, by executive order, President Donald Trump is diverting asset forfeiture funds to the construction of a wall along a portion of the Southern U.S. border.

"This is just the very first step," Heubusch said. "This is not an imminent thing. We’re not going to have a K-9 next week. We’re not going to have a K-9 next month. This is something to get in line for the funding."

Under the terms of the agreement, once the funds become available, Homeland Security to cover the estimated $15,000 in purchase and training costs. The city would be responsible for any other costs associated with a K-9, such as outfitting a patrol car, leashes, food, and veterinary care.

Heubusch said he anticipates setting up a fund to receive donations from the community, much as the Sheriff's Office has done, to cover the additional K-9 costs.

While the Sheriff's Office is soon to have two K-9s on duty, and the Department of Environmental Conservation and State Police have K-9s in the area that sometimes assists local law enforcement, a K-9 in the City of Batavia would greatly enhance the Batavia PDs capabilities, Heubusch said.

"We have a great relationship with all of those agencies and they’ve all helped us out in the past, but you’re talking about response time to get to a situation," Heubusch said. "So if there’s a child missing or if there’s an elderly person missing, that’s time that is ticking away."

The last K-9 officer in the city was Ed Mileham, now retired, now a fire chief in Indian Falls. 

According to Heubusch, Mileham was taken off of K-9 duty when police unions across the state challenged the lack of overtime pay for K-9 handlers because the officers are often called upon to care for their animals while not officially on duty. 

Police departments across the state, Heubusch said, took their K-9s out of service at that point rather than pay overtime. 

If Batavia gets a new K-9, Heubusch told the council that Batavia will follow the example of the Sheriff's Office in providing handlers with time to care for their animals as part of their normal duty shifts.

Mileham said he supports Batavia trying to bring back K-9 patrols and noted, as have other police officers over the years, that "bad guys don't like K-9s."

Heubusch agreed.

"If you go to a scene and there’s a K-9 on scene, there’s a different demeanor from somebody you’re dealing with," Heubusch said.

Batavia's K-9 will be a patrol dog -- not specifically a drug dog or a bomb dog but a general patrol dog.

"It’s all about being able to provide the best service to the community that we possibly can," Heubusch said. "K-9s can be used in patrol interdiction, to get drugs off the street; they can be used in finding people, if you’ve got a lost loved one or somebody that wandered away, you can do tracking with them.

"If you look at (alarms), we respond to numerous burglary alarms in buildings. It takes two or three officers quite a while to clear a building. A K-9 can do it in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the risk."

November 20, 2018 - 12:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in K-9, Destro, Sheriff's Office, news, notify.

The Sheriff's Office may have found a young dog worthy of taking over K-9 patrol for "Destro," who died unexpectedly in early October.

A 2-year-old Belgian malinois from the nation of Holland is being evaluated by Deputy Chris Erion, the Sheriff's Office current K-9 handler, and if the dog proves suitable, the county will pay a $9,500 fee for purchase, shipment and paperwork on the dog.

That's about $1,000 more than anticipated but the cost is also amply covered by donations from members of the community to the Sheriff's K-9 program.

Erion said this morning that he has the dog -- who has a name but the name may change -- and is working with him to see if is temperament is suitable for police work. This morning, he's returning from the K-9 training facility in Canada where he was given a workout.

"We're putting him through his paces," Erion said.

The dog has only basic training at this point and will need to be fully trained in K-9 police work before being put into service. That training will start in March.

The fundraising following Destro's death has been so successful -- and there are more fundraising events planned -- that the Sheriff's Office will acquire a second K-9. Undersheriff Greg Walker said the new, second K-9 handler has already been selected from among current deputies but the Sheriff's Office is not ready yet to announce who the new handler will be.

Even though payment for the new dog is covered by community donations, the money still goes into the county's budget and the expenditure must be approved by the Legislature. The Public Service Committee voted to recommend approval of the $9,500 fee for the new dog from Holland.

At the Public Service meeting yesterday, a member of the Legislature asked why the K-9 money came from public donations rather than the county's general fund and Legislator Gary Maha, the former Sheriff, explained that when the Sheriff's Office first decided to acquire a K-9 the decision was made to ask the community to pay for it.

There have been four dogs purchased since then, each one paid for through donations and that just seems to be the way it's done now. There was nothing preventing the Sheriff's Office from including a new K-9 in its operations budget.

In this case, as soon as the news came out of Destro's death, who succumbed to complications from cancer surgery, community members set up fundraisers and donations started pouring in.

Legislator John Hilchey suggested he and his fellow legislators wouldn't have a problem funding the K-9 program, but "the community didn’t really give us a chance to ask on it."

October 28, 2018 - 9:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Destro, K-9, Sheriff's Office, news, Chris Erion.

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Deputy Chris Erion talks with security staff from Genesee Community College during a community tribute gathering for his late partner, K-9 "Destro," who succumbed unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago from complications from a cancer surgery.

Erion plans to continue as a K-9 handler for the Sheriff's Office and plans are in place for the department to acquire another dog, hopefully by March so Erion and his new partner can begin training.

A number of fundraisers are planned around the community to help defray the costs of acquiring and training a new police dog. We will provide updates as details become available.

Photos submitted of Deputy Erion because I went to the tribute without realizing I didn't have any SD cards in my camera.

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K-9 "Kye" from Medina PD.

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Erion with a Genesee County dispatcher.

July 10, 2017 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in k-9 destro, K-9, batavia, news, notify.

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Chris Bauer, a member of the Explorer troop sponsored by Batavia PD, got to play the bad guy during a demonstration of police dog work at Batavia High School on Sunday evening.

Deputy Chris Erion and K-9 "Destro" showed the Explorers how a police dog takes down a criminal suspect, hunts for drugs, seeks out a human hiding from police, and can find fresh human scent.

In each scenario, Erion had a different pattern of commands and motions, and a different toy for Destro's reward, so Destro would know which task he was supposed to perform in which circumstance. Destro is motivated to get that toy, his favorite being an old piece of fire hose he gets after finding drugs.

Erion spoke with the students about the value of dogs in police work, which not only makes it easier to find drugs, evidence, and people, K-9s have a great calming effect in disturbances involving combative suspects. 

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Destro searching for drugs. He's close. The sample of meth was in the mate to this Nike sneaker.

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Destro with his fire hose toy.

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Erion with the tennis ball used when he wants Destro to search for fresh human scent. This search might be used to find an item a criminal suspect might have left behind while fleeing from a scene. We saw Destro display this skill in January 2014 when he found a note dropped by a robbery suspect near the crime scene.

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Destro alerting on a wallet that had been dropped in the grass by one of the Explorers.

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January 15, 2017 - 11:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in k-9 destro, K-9, batavia, news, crime.

miller_mug_rob2017.jpgIt didn't take police long to locate a robbery suspect last night, with the help of tracking by a Sheriff's K-9, after a man went into the Subway on East Main Street, Batavia, and demanded money.

The suspect got away with an undisclosed amount of cash and fled on foot.

Deputy Chris Erion with K-9 Destro helped track the suspect and he was located a short time later at a nearby residence.

Taken into custody was Ricky L. Miller II.

At the time of his arrest, Miller was allegedly found in possession of a needle.

He was charged with robbery, 3rd, petit larceny, and possession of a hypodermic instrument.

He was jailed without bail.

December 1, 2016 - 3:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, schools, education, K-9, news.

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Oakfield-Alabama's Lego Robotics recently won a competition with their idea to assist a police dog with its work.

Their idea was a camera and speaker combination that would allow a K-9 officer to send the dog to a remote location and then be able to see what the dog saw and give the dog verbal commands. The communications device would also be used to talk with any victims or suspects found by the K-9.

The students called it the "Communi-K9" device.

The team now advances to the championship competition Dec. 11 at the University of Rochester.

Deputy Chris Erion provided the class with information about his job and his K-9, Destro.

Information and photo from team teacher Kim Maier via Chris Erion.

March 11, 2014 - 5:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in K-9, Sheriff's Office, Destro, K-9 fund, Chris Erion.

Destro will do just about anything to get permission for a minute or two of play time while on the job -- sit and stay, chase a bad guy, search for a human scent, bark at a cornered criminal, find some dope.

If he were in the wild, it would be like any dog catching a rabbit and having a bit of fun with it before it became a snack. That's what dogs do, Deputy Chris Erion explained to a group of seventh- and eighth-grade students during a seminar on law enforcement at the 26th annual Genesee County Youth Conference at GCC.

Erion put Destro through his paces demonstrating common dog tricks such as sit, down and stay, and then had Destro chase after him a few feet and then bark at him as if he were a fleeing criminal suspect. Destro then found a marijuana sample hidden in the room.

After each task, Destro got to play with a tug with a small rubber ball attached, or he got to chew on his favorite toy -- an old piece of fire hose.

Erion recounted one of Destro's greatest law enforcement feats yet, finding a post-it note that had been used in an alleged armed robbery. The job well done really demonstrates Destro's ability to pick up human scents, Erion told the students.

After the demonstration, Erion shared information about a new Facebook page set up by the children of Deputy Brian Thompson to help raise funds to support the K-9 program.

"The care and maintenance for a police K-9 is above what it typically is for a household pet," Erion said. "Their teeth have to be regularly maintained. Often they break teeth -- he's broken a couple of teeth already that had to be fixed -- care, feeding, all those sorts of things go into the K-9 fund to support the dog."

There isn't a specific budget amount the K-9 fund is trying to raise. The goal is to maintain an ongoing source of revenue to help take care of Destro and Pharoah, who retires in October, when Thompson retires, though Erion believes it would be a good idea to maintain a fund balance of $5,000 to $10,000.

"Then, if something were to happen, we could handle that immediately," Erion said. "We could put a new dog and handler into the field immediately."

The Facebook page was set up by Thompson's daughters Olivia and Sophia. They also came up with the idea of an envelope fundraiser. People can send a message through Facebook requesting an available envelope -- once a numbered envelope is taken and returned, it's counted as "filled," so you'll need to pick a different number -- and they will receive the requested envelope to fill with a donation and return.

The goal is to raise $10,000. According to the page, $2,000 has already been raised.

"If you think about it, the only life (Thompson's) children have known is life with a police K-9," Erion said. "He's worked K-9 his entire career with the Sheriff's Office and before that. It's part of their life, just having a police K-9 in the house, and they came up with an idea for a fundraiser. I just think it speaks volumes about their character and Brian's character to have that thought to do that."

Since becoming a K-9 officer, Erion said he's really learned a lot about the generosity of the Genesee County community.

"This assignment has opened my eyes to a lot of good things in our community," Erion said. "There's a school right now (where) the whole school is working on a K-9 fundraiser and I've had other people approach me to find out how to go about raising funds."

Visit the Facebook page Genesee County NY K-9 Support and click "Like"

Above, Kyle Mott gets a chance to pet Destro.

December 24, 2013 - 5:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in K-9, Sheriff's Office, Destro.

"Destro" likes people. He likes the snow. His favorite toy is a piece of old fire hose. But don't let the puppy disposition of the 2-year-old German shepherd fool you. He's a trained police dog, capable on command of doing all the things police dogs do.

If you meet Destro, you're likely to make a new friend, but let him approach you. Just to be safe.

"He's good," said his new handler and partner in crime-fighting Deputy Chris Erion. "He gets on my nerves once in awhile and I get on his, but we're a good match. He works very well."

Yesterday was the first day on the job for the new K-9 team after Erion and Destro completed 15 weeks of K-9 police dog academy.

"We start with a brand new dog who has almost zero training and we start right from the beginning," Erion said. "That way we know how he's trained, how he learns certain things. If problems come up, we know how to correct them, so it's a lot of long classes."

The 15-week course covered training in the areas of building and open area searches, obedience, tracking, drug detection, and handler protection.

The hardest part of the training, Erion said was "just sticking to it and getting up every morning."

"I got up at 4:30 every morning to get to Canada by 7:30 and I didn't get up home (until) 6:30, 7 o'clock at night and then my kids and wife needed attention, too, so balancing all of that was a challenge."

Destro gets along well with Erion's four children, the deputy said. "And he's kind of brought new life to my old German shepherd. They run around outside and play. They get along very well."

Erion and Destro start their new career together just as the K-9 handling career of Deputy Brian Thompson comes to a close. Thompson and "Pharoah" still are available to handle calls and help with the new team's training, but in about 10 months "Pharoah" will be retired from active duty.

Erion said he's grateful to the community support to help keep the Sheriff's Office K-9 program going.

"This program is completely funded by the community and we're certainly grateful for that," Erion said. "I'm personally grateful for that. There's an expense that goes into training and maintaining the dog, and that comes from donations. Without that we wouldn't be able to support the program."

August 7, 2013 - 6:15pm
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in K-9, Sheriff's Office, K-9 Pharoah.

The Sheriff’s Office has a new K-9 team to replace current police K-9, Pharoah, and his handler, Deputy Brian Thompson. The 11-year-old Czech German Shepherd is retiring and his handler is relinquishing his K-9 assignment after 13 years to return to road patrol.

Thompson has nothing but praise for Pharoah, whom he described as a great tracker, good with children and an excellent drug-detection dog.

“Pharoah is an awesome dog and you would never know that he’ll be 12 in the fall,” Thompson said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the County's Public Service Committee approved $13,346 for a new police K-9, training for a new K-9 handler and additional equipment and supplies. The funds come from money donated to the Genesee County K-9 Fund, as well as funds from Forfeiture of Crime Proceeds.

The K-9 team is used for search and suspect apprehension, locating missing persons including missing children and Alzheimer patients, contraband and drug searches, tactical tracking, evidence recovery, building searches, patrol, and public presentations. 

Pharoah began working with Thompson in November 2010 and was donated by Niagara Falls Police Department. He is certified in patrol, tracking, handler protection, narcotics detection, building searches and apprehension. Pharoah and Thompson will work until the dog and handler are trained and ready to take over.

“Training lasts for 15 weeks, from September to December,” Thompson said.

Pharoah's retirement will be spent with the Thompson family.

March 29, 2013 - 3:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in K-9.

Press release:

Genesee County Sheriff’s Office K-9, Pharoah, will be retiring at the end of the year and Sheriff Gary T. Maha has announced a fundraising campaign to replace the dog.

Pharoah is 11 years old and has been working with Deputy Brian Thompson since November 2010. Deputy Thompson will be relinquishing his K-9 duties at the end of the year as well. Deputy Thompson has been the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer for the past 13 years.

The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office has been able to maintain a K-9 team for the past 13 years with support and donations from the public along with county funding. Public support and donations are vital to the continuation of this worthwhile program and are used to pay for food, veterinary services, training, equipment, and other K-9 related expenses.

The K-9 team is used for search and suspect apprehension, locating missing persons including missing children and Alzheimer patients, contraband and drug searches, tactical tracking, evidence recovery, building searches, patrol, and public presentations.

The Sheriff’s Office will be selecting a new K-9 officer and will be searching for a new K-9. The cost for a police dog ranges from between $5,000 - $8,000 and a 15-week K-9 training course costs approximately $5,000.

The Sheriff’s Office is initiating a public fundraiser for a sustainable K-9 fund for the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office. Maha says: We need your support to continue with our K-9 program and are asking businesses, community organizations and individuals to make a tax-deductible donation to the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Fund, 165 Park Road, Batavia, NY 14020.

Inquiries may be made to Confidential Secretary Carolyn Della Penna at (585) 345-3000, Ext. 3510.

April 25, 2011 - 6:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, K-9, Sheriff's Office, Brian Thompson.

Deputy Brian Thompson's new partner has convinced him to keep working a couple of years longer.

Thompson was considering retirement in December, but then "Pharoah" came into his life.

The 8-year-old, 80 pound, Czech Shepherd was donated to the Sheriff's Office by the Niagara Falls PD and handler Michael Bird after K-9 "Finn" was retired due to a medical condition.

Thompson has nothing but praise for Pharoah, who he described as a great tracker, good with children and an excellent drug detection dog.

"When we get a chance to use him for tracking, we're going to find some bad guys andhopefully find some people who might be missing," Thompson said.

Already, Pharoah is making an impact in the fight against illegal drugs in Genesee County, according to Thompson.

"He's had some awesome drug finds so far that led us into some pretty good arrests, in the Class B felony range," Thompson said. "That inspires me."

It inspires him, Thompson said, to keep going for the sake of the community.

He thinks local law enforcement has been making good progress so far in fighting meth and crack in the community.

"Hopefully, some people will be put back on their heels to say, 'I don't want to deal drugs in Genesee County -- they're catching a lot of people there,'" Thompson said. "We can clean this town up. I love this place. It's the greatest place to live in the world."

Pharoah is trained to alert on methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, hashish and ecstasy.

He is also trained to track human scents, both in the open and in confined areas, and trained for handler protection and criminal apprehension.

The K-9 program's vet bills, medications and non-handler kenneling are paid for from a K-9 fund set up with community and business donations, including an original substantial donation by Ken Barrett Chevrolet several years ago. All equipment for the K-9 program also comes from the fund, and when Pharoah retires in a couple of years, a new K-9 will need to be purchased from the fund, which has been dwindling over the years, Thompson said.

He said he's confident, when the time comes, the community will come through to offer continued support of the Sheriff's K-9 program.

October 2, 2008 - 3:47pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, police, sheriff, video, K-9.

Many thanks to Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Thompson for taking the time to introduce me—and by extension, all of you—to the newest member of the county force: Finn, the Czech Shepherd. Finn was purchased by the force through donated funds to help mostly on search missions, whether that means he's looking for a criminal hiding in a building or a bag of pot strapped under a Lexus. Take a look:

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