Non-profit donates vest for Anoka K9

Through the generosity of a north metro non-profit, Anoka Police Department’s K9 now has some extra protection.

Darrin Thomas, chairman of P.A.W.S. for K9’s, and his young son Jaymeson donate a bullet resistant vest to Anoka Police Department Officer George Walker and his K9 partner Barrett. Photo submitted

Darrin Thomas, chairman of P.A.W.S. for K9’s, and his young son Jaymeson donate a bullet resistant vest to Anoka Police Department Officer George Walker and his K9 partner Barrett. Photo submitted

In dangerous situations Barrett, the K9 partner of Officer George Walker, is now wearing a bullet resistant vest.

That vest was donated by P.A.W.S. for K9’s, a non-profit started last fall by Ham Lake resident Darrin Thomas, which has provided vests to area police departments.

“We really do appreciate this donation because it is something difficult to budget for,” said Anoka Police Chief Phil Johanson.

The vest is protecting a valuable asset of the department, which invests a lot of money in both the purchase and the training of the dog.

“The value of the vest is $700, less than half of what it costs to outfit a regular officer with the bullet resistant vests they wear while on patrol,” said Johanson.

The vests are designed to stop anything from a 9 mm to .40-caliber hand gun.

Walker has volunteered with the non-profit by bringing Barrett to demonstrations, said Johanson, and was on a waiting list for a vest.

Because of its weight and heat, the bullet resistant vest is only worn in situations where Barrett’s safety is of concern.

But since it was donated in July, he has had a chance to wear it while on the job, said Johanson.

The work police dogs do is an important part of improving officer safety, he said.

They are put to work in a variety of situations, including criminal apprehension, building searches as well as sniffing out illegal drugs.

If an alarm goes off in a large building like a school or a church in the middle of the night, a dog can search a building much more quickly and efficiently than his human counterparts.

“In a cold building that dog will go right to someone who is inside,” said Johanson.

K9s are also often used in search and rescue situations when people go missing.

Barrett, a German shepherd, is one of many K9’s the Anoka Police Department has had since it started using police dogs in the 1960s under then Chief Andy Revering.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at editor.anokaunion@ecm-inc.com


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