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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2020:02:03 15:18:56

RICH COX / FOR THE VALLEY ADVANTAGE From left: Officer Tim Cramer, Sgt. Lewis Kline, Chief James DeVoe and Officer Dan Volpi.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2020:02:03 15:14:03

RICH COX / FOR THE VALLEY ADVANTAGE Olyphant Police Chief James DeVoe holds King.

The Queen City has a new King.

Last month, the Olyphant Borough Police Department introduced the first K-9 officer in the department’s history. King, an 8-month-old German Shepard, will specialize in narcotics detection and suspect apprehension.

Olyphant Police Chief James DeVoe will act as King’s lifelong handler. DeVoe became Olyphant’s police chief in Aug. of 2018, following the retirement of 35-year veteran James Foley. The borough’s police department includes seven full-time and eleven part-time police officers.

The department has seen a recent influx of illegal narcotics making way through the valley, notably methamphetamine, according to Chief DeVoe. The department hopes the news of its new four-legged officer will deter would-be offenders from bringing illegal narcotics into the borough.

“He (King) is here for a reason,” said Chief DeVoe. “It’s our job to keep the poison out.”

The value of King’s presence will extend far beyond his soon-to-be intimidating, 90-pound frame. Aside from the fact that King will be trained to attack on command, just having him on the scene can give the Olyphant police officers probable cause needed to search a vehicle or property of a person who displays suspicious or pedicular behaviors.

“We can see the signs when a person is acting suspicious,” said Chief DeVoe. “As long as we have King with us, there’s a justified reason to do a search, we have probable cause. Hopefully the word will spread, and deter offenders from bringing illegal narcotics into the area. If we have reason to believe a person is acting funny, trying to hide something, they’re going to be searched. It’s probable cause. People will think twice about bringing drugs into our area.”

The facts

K-9 officers significantly reduce the risk to human officers by alerting to danger long before a human can detect it. The sensitive noses of German Shepherds give law enforcement an invaluable tool for detecting illegal drugs. On average, the typical K-9 officer saves an estimated 800 man-hours every year. Narcotics-sniffing dogs like King have become a necessity for Pennsylvania law enforcement to combat the statewide opioid epidemic.

Raising funds

King’s arrival was made possible by the fundraising efforts of the Olyphant Neighborhood Watch. The group, led by President Eric Hartshorn, raised the $3,000 needed to purchase King and start his training. The K-9 was purchased from the Milnerhaus Kennels in nearby Taylor.

Milnerhaus Kennels use a selective breeding process to produce canines of the highest possible pedigree. Generations of complex and selective breeding are the direct result of a long lineage of even tempered, purebred German Shepherds. King was chosen specifically for the Olyphant Police Dept. by the kennel’s owner, Al Milnerhaus.

“We recently held a porketta sandwich fundraiser with 800 sandwiches sold,” said Hartshorn. “We are selling hoodies, crew neck sweatshirts, T-shirts and long sleeves. We also have a GoFundMe page and a 5k run in the works to raise more money for King. Hometown Animal Hospital is donating his shots, but we are still searching for a pet store to donate food, which will be a big expense.”

King is currently in the early stages of basic obedience training, which is led by his handler, Chief DeVoe. When the pooch wraps up basic obedience training, he’ll return to Milnerhaus Kennels for extensive training in narcotics detection and suspect apprehension. Generally, the training lasts between eight and nine months. By the time King reaches the age of 18 months, he should be primed to accompany the police chief when he goes out on patrol.

The typical career of a K-9 officer lasts between 8-10 years. The bond between a K-9 and its handler lasts forever. King will continue to live with the DeVoe family following retirement from the force.

Lackawanna’s Deputy Dogs

The Olyphant Borough Police Department joins an exclusive list of Lackawanna County precincts that have their own K-9 units. In 2018, the Carbondale Police Department welcomed Axel, a giant schnauzer that specializes in narcotics detection and apprehension. In 2019, the Scott Township Police Department welcomed Nika, a Belgian Malinois that specializes in search and rescue and narcotics detection, and Scranton Police Department welcomed Attyro, a German Shepherd that specializes in patrol and bomb sniffing.

Want to help?

Donations can be dropped off at the Olyphant Borough Building, with checks made out to the Olyphant Neighborhood Watch. For more information on King and future fundraising efforts, check the Olyphant Neighborhood Watch Facebook page.