DEAL - The borough police department will be getting it's first four-legged member this summer after the 14-month-old Belgian Malinois completes training, officials said.
Patrolman Dan Lokerson was selected among three officers who expressed interest in becoming a handler and started training with his new partner, Atok, at the Morris County Police Academy, Chief Ronen Neuman said. The duo was being trained in tracking, evidence search, field search, scouting, building searches and criminal apprehension.
"So far he's been doing well [in the academy]," Neuman said.
Dr. Caesar DePaco, of Summit Nutritionals International Inc., donated the funds for the $12,000 K-9 to the police department, the chief said. Atok was born in the Czech Republic and Deal police received him from Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Indiana.
"This would have never been able to happen without that donation," Sgt. Brian Egan said.
Before establishing the K-9 Unit, Egan said the police department would have to call in mutual aid from other agencies after incidents such as missing persons and burglaries. Now, Deal police can lend their dog out to help other departments as needed.
Once Atok completes training, he and Lokerson will hit the streets for the summer season, Egan said. In the Fall, the team will return to training for narcotics.
"We have billions in assets in this town that we have to protect from people that may want to take advantage of an easy target," Egan said.
The chief said the department also plans to hold events where the community will have the opportunity to meet the newest member of the department.
"It's great for community relations and we're hoping in serious situations, if someone's missing or we need tracking or there's a burglary, hopefully [the dog] will be able to help us with something like that," chief said.
Deal police said updates on the K-9 will be posted on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Officials said anyone wishing to donate to the K-9 Unit could contact the Deal Police Department.
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