THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Damon kept pawing a softball-sized ball with a rope attached to it as he twirled, rolling the ball on the ground, occasionally picking it up with his mouth and holding it there before he dropped it and resumed the game.
By the way he conducted himself, one would never know the Toledo police dog just sat almost perfectly still through a 15-minute ceremony, during which he was introduced as a dog trained — among other things — in tracking people and attacking them, if ordered.
Trained in finding explosives and tracking suspects, Damon and Officer Scott Lewandowski, 43, a 12-year veteran of the department, make up one of two new police dog-handler units that Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs introduced to the media Monday — the teams’ first official day on the job.
Toledo police Officer Joseph Taylor and Joker, a 17-month-old German shepherd, make up the second of the two teams that joined the city’s police force Monday after going through a six-week training in explosives and tracking, Chief Diggs said at a news conference at the Civic Center Mall downtown. Certified Friday, the teams’ job is to search buildings for explosives, track suspects, search for evidence, and assist in apprehending suspects, Chief Diggs said.
They join two narcotics dogs already working for the department, and four more canines will be added by year’s end.
Damon and Joker came from a breeder in Germany who sells dogs to the German Army and police departments; the dogs are $6,500 each. Training for an explosives dog-handler team is an additional $7,200. The money comes from a law enforcement trust fund, according to Deputy Police Chief Don Kenney, who also was at the event.
There will be no language barrier between the dogs and the canine officers. Even though the dogs were acquired from Germany, they were trained in English in the United States.
Deputy Chief Kenney said four more dogs will join the police department, including some trained in searching for narcotics as well as in tracking. They all are male German shepherds.
One of those dogs has arrived from the Czech Republic, purchased from the Czech Army through a dealer. It has been trained in drug searches and suspect tracking. Training for a narcotics dog-handler team is $6,800, the deputy chief said.
One of the dogs is expected to come as a gift to the department from the German breeder, he said. The dogs will be put into service as soon as their training is complete.
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell said at the event, “The idea is ... being able to bring in techniques that have been used throughout the United States to better equip the police department.”
Deputy Chief Kenney said veterinary services for the dogs will be provided for free by High Point Animal Hospital, Maumee. Dog food will come at discounted price from The Andersons on Talmadge Road.
Though Damon and Officer Lewandowski officially started on the job Monday, their first day “on the streets” was likely going to be today, Officer Scott Lewandowski said.
Contact Mike Sigov at: email@example.com, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.