The Thomasville Rotary Club announced Wednesday a donation of $15,000 to the Thomasville Police Department for the purchase and training of two new police dogs.
Several TPD officers were in attendance for the check presentation at the Thomasville Woman's Club.
“In taking over five years ago, I inherited a group of K-9 officers that I would put up against any K-9 unit in the state,” TPD Chief Jeff Insley said. “They are the best-trained, the best handlers, the best animal lovers I think I've ever worked with. We're very proud of them, and we're also very proud of the support of the community, which will help us continue to maintain our program. We're very appreciative.”
Of four TPD canines, one will likely soon retire and two others are aged veterans. The task of grooming their successors will belong to their handlers. Rather than having to invest the full sum to purchase and train one – the customary cost is $13,000 for purchase and training – the department will be able to buy two since the officers will train the dogs in-house.
The new dogs – which will be trained in apprehension, tracking, narcotics detection, building and article search – should be available for service by October, according to Cpl. Joey Driggers, who said that Thomasville Rotary Club has donated $47,000 to fund the TPD K-9 program since 2006.
“I think there was a need for another K-9, and when we found that out, we felt like that was something we could do to help out the community,” said Toni Underwood, president of the Rotary Club. “It's about service above self. When there is a need in Thomasville, we try to do as much in the community as we can.”
Driggers seconded Insley’s appreciation for the funds and is well aware of the many things the club has allowed his unit to achieve.
“A few of the members, business owners in the community, wanted to help out, and in 2007, presented us with a check for $30,000,” Driggers said. “Then in 2008, they presented us with another check which provided Sgt. Barber's dog. We were able to fund Officer [Zach] Groves' dog with interdiction money.”
Ramos, Drigger's dog, is one of the animals that has served not only as a valuable tool, as Insley pointed out while accepting the check on behalf of the department, but a means by which his handler has been able to engage the community. TPD often finds ways to introduce their K-9 officers at various events, which brings a certain level of comfort to children who might otherwise be unwilling to assist law enforcement.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 847-9911, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.