Peace Vice -- 02/14/2008 - 08/22/2016
K-9 units team up in Nanticoke, Hanover
Paul Golias - Citizens Voice
The barking alone is enough to get a bad guy to back off.
In Wyoming Valley's South Valley area, the barking may be coming
from more than one K-9 dog, and that often means that more than
one bad situation will not get worse.
Police officers in the Nanticoke City and Hanover Township police
departments are using well-trained dogs both as stand-alone
patrol and search partners and as components of a cooperative
program that is paying dividends.
The dogs are handling a variety of challenges, from suspect
apprehension to narcotics searches to building goodwill through
Thanks to a $102,000 grant made available via the state gaming
proceeds distribution, both departments were able to buy new
vehicles, cages and various K-9 support items intended to keep
the animals safe and comfortable in the patrol cruisers.
Nanticoke's K-9 officer, Patrolman Brian Kivler, and his dog,
Vice, and Hanover Township's officer, Patrolman Mark Stefanowicz,
and his dog, Ado, met for a "team photo" last week.
Vice is a long-haired German shepherd and Ado is a Malinois,
related to the Belgian shepherd.
Police Chief Bill Shultz of Nanticoke and Chief Al Walker of
Hanover Township joined the K-9 cops and dogs and then provided
insight into the program.
Kivler has been Nanticoke's K-9 officer for the last four years.
Vice is 4 years old and was trained by Plymouth Borough Police
Chief Myles Collins.
Hanover's K-9 program dates to 1991. Stefanowicz teamed with
Ado, also 4 years old, in 2009 and the dog was trained by Paul
Price of the Northeast Canine Academy, Wilkes-Barre Township.
It takes about three months to go through training, the officers
The key value of K-9 dogs is deterrence, the officers said.
"An individual will take on three police officers,'' Stefanowicz
said, "but when he sees the canine, he backs off.''
It often is enough to threaten to get the dog out of the cruiser
or yell to a fugitive in hiding that "I'm sending in the
dog'' to get him to surrender, Stefanowicz said.
With gun violence escalating in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the
value of K-9 dogs also has grown. And it is in this phase of
police work, and in narcotics interdiction, that the South Valley
K-9 Partnership shows its strength. The dogs can go anywhere
in the county.
"Because small towns can't afford dog programs, the opportunity
to use one of our dogs is a great benefit to those towns and
to the county," Kivler said.
The dogs may be called on to search for a missing person or
to do a narcotics search of a stopped vehicle. The dogs can
search houses and other buildings.
From time to time, the K-9 cops will take their dogs to area
middle schools and high schools and do unannounced locker searches.
The dogs can detect drugs in lockers and school personnel then
can determine if illegal drugs are being brought into the buildings
by drug pushers.
"This service is priceless," Stefanowicz said. "The
impact on kids is incredible when police show up to do searches."
Stefanowicz said as many as eight to 10 K-9 units can take part
in such inspections and "it is something to see that number
of K-9 units pull into a school parking lot at one time."
There are other K-9 units in Luzerne County, including Kingston,
Wilkes-Barre Township, at the county prison and a new dog in
small Sugar Notch Borough where the chief, Chris Pelchar, is
the K-9 handler.
The Hanover and Nanticoke dogs have been used as trackers, including
a recent case in Nanticoke where a missing 6-year-old was tracked
back to his own home.
Stefanowicz said the dogs are very intense when they do drug
searches and they can tire after 30 minutes or so. Often, a
second dog then takes over or does part of the search in a bigger
building, such as a school.
The dogs are not trained to sniff out bombs. Specialized animals
are used in such cases because cops would not know if a dog
was signaling drugs or a bomb if cross-training was used.
The officers do presentations to scout troops, community organizations
and the like. Stefanowicz took Ado to show his skills at a recent
cancer awareness program in Mountain Top.
Walker said Nanticoke and Hanover Township have a long history
of cops backing up each other and the K-9 cooperative is an
extension of that work.
Shultz said sharing of information is vital today and law enforcement
agencies are networking to combat drugs and gangs, the latter
an emerging issue that is on the radar of state and federal
The average career life of a K-9 dog is 10 years. The dogs live
with the officer-handler and most often, in retirement, they
pass to the private ownership of that officer and his family.
Hanover Township residents became familiar with Rikki and Zeke,
K-9 dogs of the past.
State Sen. John Yudichak, who aided Nanticoke and Hanover Township
in getting the state grant, lauded the regional effort.
"We cannot expect towns to go it alone in the fight for
safe neighborhoods," he said. Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township,
is hopeful that more cooperation and true regionalization will
Walker said the towns are hopeful they can obtain new grants
for K-9 and other programs.
Meet K9 Vice. Vice is a 4 year old German Shepherd Police
Service Dog. He is presently the City's only sworn Police
Canine. K9 Vice continues to be a tremendous asset to both
the Police Department and the Community he serves. Vice has
been protecting and serving the citizens of our community
Vice is partnered with Officer Kivler. K9 Vice is uniquely
trained to locate hidden evidence such as illegal drugs/narcotics.
He also had training in crowd control, evidence recovery,
suspect apprehension, suspect tracking, and search and rescue,
such as human tracking. Vice has undergone countless hours
of training to achieve his certification as Police Service
Vice has aided Police Officers in locating substantial amounts
of illegal street drugs that were hidden in the most unique
POLICE CANINE FUNCTION...
The mission of the K-9 Unit is quite
simple, to detect and deter crime...
There are many ways police service
dogs are utilized to fight crime -
Area Search in large fields or woods for hidden suspects
Building Search for hidden suspects
Physical Apprehension of dangerous criminals
Emergency Response Team Support
Your Nanticoke Police K-9 Unit serves
the community and enhances police patrol functions by utilizing
the canine's keen senses and abilities in detecting and apprehending
DO'S AND DON'TS...
What should and shouldn't you do
if you encounter a police dog while on duty?
The most important thing is to allow
the handler and dog to do their job; staying out of the way
is probably the most helpful thing a citizen can do. Often
you may see a handler and his canine tracking a suspect, perhaps
even through your own yard. Everyone is curious, but by walking
around to get a better look at what's going on just makes
the K-9 teams work that much more difficult.
Citizens are justifiably concerned
about what is happening when they see police officers in their
neighborhood, but trying to stop the handler and his dog to
ask questions while they are working is not the best time
to do so. If you have important information to pass on, direct
it to support officers that are with the K-9 handler.
Do not approach a police K-9 vehicle
that is unattended! Trying to get a peek at the police service
dog could cause aggressive behavior and could be a danger
to you; it is not only unsafe to tease a police dog, IT IS
AGAINST THE LAW.
If you should ever find yourself in
the RARE situation of having a suspect run by you that is
being chased by a police dog, the best thing to do is just
stand still; by standing still the dog will not pay as much
attention to you.
One last don't... don't try to pet a police
dog without permission of the handler. Police dogs are not just
another family pet; they are trained law enforcement tools and
must be treated with regard for the work they must perform.