Five Dayton police officers are working the streets without the safety of a ballistic vest, and often these officers are sent into dangerous situations.
The department’s K-9 unit was not previously outfitted with ballistic vests. But thanks to a donation from Dayton’s 9th chapter of the Women of the Moose, the dogs will be just as well protected as their handlers. Officer Rob Cleaver, who’s worked with a K-9 for the past 14 years, said he’s witnessed how dangerous the job can be for his four-legged partner.
“We’ll send them in after a robbery suspect in a dark house,” said Officer Rob Cleaver. “I’ve seen dogs get hit by chairs, boards. We’ve had guys pull knives before.”
The vest will protect the dogs from bullets and knives. Each of the department’s five dogs were measured Wednesday. The vests are fitted for each animal, stretching across their entire torso, said Officer Nathan Speelman.
“Our dogs are put into the exact same situations we are as police officers. To be able to protect our partners is excellent,” he said.
Each vest costs $580. The Women of the Moose’s donation was made through the Safe Surfin’ Foundation’s “Protect the Protector” initiative, which has outfitted 670 officers with bulletproof vests since August 2013. They’ve collected enough funds for three vests and are working on purchasing a fourth, said Anita Farish, star recorder chairwoman for the organization.
“Most of the time they get vests for the humans, not the animals,” Farish said. “But they are the first line of defense in some cases. We’re excited about the project.”
The vests will be available mid-January. Anyone wishing to make donations toward the vests can contact Farish at (937) 371-1736.