GREENFIELD — A deputy has taken it upon himself to raise money for the purchase of a second police dog for the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.
Scott Chapman has a lofty goal: Initial costs for a trained police dog total about $10,000.
Chapman, who began working as a reserve officer eight years ago before joining the merit ranks in 2010, said the benefits of dogs to law enforcement are numerous.
The dogs are used to track suspects and missing people, as well as find drugs.
“There’s more to that animal than his teeth – his nose, his ability to know … if somebody’s hiding somewhere from us,” Chapman said.
Given the funding, Chapman plans to purchase a dog that will be trained both in suspect apprehension and drug-sniffing.
The department already has one dog, whose handler, Aaron Fawver, has been working with him since the K-9 program was brought back to the department under former Sheriff Bud Gray in 2007.
The department had a second dog, but it was donated to a Shelby County department in 2012 after the handler left the sheriff’s department.
At the time, no one else was interested in taking on the responsibilities of being a handler, Sheriff Mike Shepherd said.
Shepherd said that’s likely because having a dog for a partner takes serious dedication. Not only does the animal ride along in the deputy’s car while the deputy is on patrol, but it goes home with the deputy after the shift.
“There is a commitment, obviously,” Shepherd said.
Now, Chapman says he’s up for the job. He’s been accompanying Fawver to training sessions to see what being a handler entails, and he feels ready to assume the responsibility.
“He will be my dog until he dies or until something happens to me,” Chapman said.
Shepherd said he gave Chapman his blessing to purchase a new dog, provided he raised the money.
“There’s no money available to purchase the dog,” Shepherd said.
The bulk of the funding to bring the program back in 2007 came from grant money, Shepherd added.
Chapman is in the process of approaching businesses for help with the fundraising but said he hopes county residents will also recognize the value of the program and consider donating.
Fawver is helping to spread the word.
He and his dog, Flash, have been working together for the past seven years.
Fawver said while he’s enjoyed being a handler, he’ll be happy to pass the torch to Chapman when Flash retires in the next few years.
“These dogs typically only last … maybe 10 or 12 years, give or take, depending on their health,” he said.
Fawver said getting a second dog now makes sense, because it will allow the department to be covered while Chapman and his dog take the time to learn each other’s work techniques.