Police K9 unit has been worth every penny

THE COMMUNITY STEPPED UP in a big way last year to create a K9 unit for the Plymouth Police Department and after six months the unit is already paying big dividends.

A fundraising effort launched a little over a year ago quickly raised more than $60,000 needed to add the K9 unit to the department and the new four-legged officer, a chocolate Labrador named Zoey, joined the force in mid-October.

When the campaign was launched, department officials emphasized that the main focus would be to address the growing drug problem in the city and the western half of the county, where there was no police dog available at the time.

“The predominant tool for law enforcement in the detection of illegal drugs is a canine unit,” the department explained on its fundraising webpage. “A K9 unit would be on day-to-day patrol with its handler and accessible for traffic stops, available for educational purposes to local schools and civic groups, and it would fill the requests of local schools for canine searches throughout the school year. Canines can search a building in a fraction of the time it would take an officer.”

That Zoey has been an effective tool in the fight against drugs was evident in Police Chief Jeffrey Tauscheck’s six-month report on the K9 unit to the City Council last week.

Since she’s been on duty, Zoey has been deployed 43 times, including 24 traffic stops, 14 other drug searches and five other tracking requests. That’s more than one-and-a-half deployments a week, on average.

Zoey has been pivotal in the seizure of approximately $7,000 worth of drugs – including marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD and Ecstasy along with needles, pipes and other assorted drug paraphernalia - and $3,587 in drug-related cash.

That record alone would be a proud and productive one, but Zoey – and her handler, Officer Justin Daniels – has proven her worth in other ways as well.

Early on, she helped track down a suspect in a bank robbery in Adell, including helping to recover evidence from the suspect’s residence leading to additional burglary and armed robbery charges.

She also successfully tracked an elderly dementia patient who had wandered away from the Cedar Grove Gardens.

Zoey and Daniels have been called on for assistance by the Elkhart Lake, New Holstein, Sheboygan and Sheboygan Falls police departments as well as the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department and the Sheboygan County Multi- Jurisdictional Enforcement Group.

Zoey and Daniels have continued their training to ensure that they stay on top of the latest methods and keep sharp, putting in more than 177 hours since last October – more than 30 hours a month. That includes working twice a month in Green Bay with the Brown County K9 unit.

That’s a hard-working and productive record, but Zoey and Daniels have worked to make themselves part of the community in other ways as well.

For instance, they served as marshals for the annual Holiday Gathering Parade that kicked off the Christmas season last November. This summer, Zoey will be welcoming her four-legged friends to take part in a dog gathering/show during the Downtown Plymouth Association’s Family Fun Day.

All in all, Zoey has proven to be a valuable, recognizable and worthwhile addition to Plymouth and the police department. She has been, and will continue to be, a truly worthwhile investment by the entire community.

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