More K-9 units to join Sheriff’s Department
By Sparta Live | January 10, 2002 12:00 am
With the formation of a new White County citizen’s club in the works, it appears White County Sheriff’s Department will soon be receiving two additional K-9 units to aid in local drug enforcement.
Suzanne Dickerson, publisher of The Expositor, explained the club’s concept and its aim for assisting the community.
“We are in the process of forming a group for concerned citizens who want to actively make a difference in our community,” said Dickerson.
“The plan is to set up a non-profit organization called The White County 100 Club in which a board of directors will oversee privately donated funds.”
Citing the club’s records would always be available for public scrutiny, Dickerson added that members’ donations would be earmarked for the betterment of the community as a whole.
The first funding discussed is the plan to purchase two K-9 units for the Sheriff’s department.
The idea for the formation of the club was initiated when Dickerson received a visit from former Detroit police officer, Dewey Fowler. Fowler, a native White Countian, who returned to his hometown after retirement, is extremely concerned about the overwhelming drug problem in the county. As a veteran of law enforcement, Fowler said he felt compelled to help the sheriff’s department in combating drugs.
Deputies Darren Gongaware and Charlie Sims have already pledged their free time to the K-9 project as handlers and companions for the two new canine officers.
The dogs, trained and certified by Hartsville K-9 officer, Clint Hestand, will train with the deputies in Hartsville for a period of three days a week for at least eight weeks.
“When we leave there, the dog and I will be ready to work,” said Sims.
The two deputies are donating their days off to the project, and will receive no compensation for time spent training as K-9 handlers. The addition of the two K-9 units will give the sheriff’s department one drug dog per shift. Ember, the only K-9 unit on the force at this time, has been on the road approximately eight years. According to the deputies, a drug dog can effectively work nine to 10 years.
The dogs Gongaware and Sims will secure are 19th generation champion German Shepherds whose line hails from the country after which they were named.
They are pre-trained to identify drug odors, and will be invaluable aids for law enforcement, said Sheriff Guy Goff.
“We hope that it increases our arrests for drugs by drug interdiction techniques, because drugs go from Point A to Point B in vehicles,” said Goff.
“Probable cause standards and federal restrictions sometimes make it difficult to obtain search warrants.
The addition of the K-9 units gives practical law enforcement techniques an advantage in our local drug war.”
Gongaware also announced the formation of the White County K-9 Fund. “I’ve set up a bank account under the White County K-9 Fund,” said Gongaware.
“Anyone can donate to it at Citizen’s Bank.
The ladies at the teller windows are all aware of it.”
Funds from this non-profit account will be used for K-9 maintenance, which would include veterinarian’s visits, food and special law enforcement training and items for the K-9 force.
The White County 100 Club will also fund other community projects.
“We hope to get approximately 500 people to donate $100 per year to the fund, and then the 100 Club would use the funds for special community needs,” said Dickerson.
“The board will be doing extensive research into needed items which could include projects such as the purchase of state-of-the-art bulletproof vests for officers, additional K-9 units, items needed for community parks and recreation areas, handicapped access ramps and funds for families of officers or deputies injured or slain in the line of duty.
Each year we will ask ourselves, ‘What can we do good for our community this year?’”
To donate to the White County K-9 Fund contact Citizen’s Bank.
If interested in joining the now-forming White County 100 Club, phone Dewey Fowler at 931-761-5474.
“Everybody says, ‘Yes, we have a drug problem,’” said Gongaware.
“Here’s a chance for the community to step up and help out.”