The Somerset Police Department K-9 Unit was developed in August of 2014, shortly after Chief George McNeil was sworn in as the ninth Police Chief for the Town of Somerset. One of the Chief’s initiatives was to begin this unit knowing that the Department did not have one and believing there was a need for one. A fundraising effort was started in which hundreds of t-shirts with a K-9 logo and “Special Operations” displayed on both sides were sold. Along with over 800 t-shirts sold to the residents, there were also thousands of dollars in donations. At this point in the fundraising there has been close to $20,000 collected. In addition to that, a grant was secured from the Stanton Foundation in the amount of $25,000. These funds have allowed the SPD to purchase the patrol dog, build a kennel, secure a veterinarian, secure food, and enroll in an academy.
In September of 2014, Chief McNeil assembled a panel to interview candidates for the position of K-9 Officer. Included in this panel were Lieutenant Paul Douglas of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Department and Lieutenant Mark Corriea of the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department. Both lieutenants have many years of K-9 experience as both handlers and instructors. After the interviews were conducted the conclusion was unanimous that Officer Jared Linhares was the perfect candidate for the position of K-9 Officer. Since his appointment as K-9 Officer, Officer Linhares has continued with fundraising, built a kennel, reached out to other K-9 Officers to educate himself and he has recently begun preparing for academy training with the Boston Police Department on April 27th, 2015.
Choosing a patrol dog can be a daunting task. There is much debate over where to purchase the dog, which is the best kennel, and the best breed of dog. We concluded that Connecticut K-9 Services in Bethany, Connecticut would be the right kennel for the SPD because of the quality of animals we observed, the breed of the animal, the dogs’ origin and the guarantee given with the dog.
On March 26th, Chief McNeil, Officer Linhares, Officer Kelly, and Dr. Carlos Silvera of the Swansea Animal Hospital traveled to Connecticut to purchase our first dog. After being shown several beautiful German Shepherd dogs, we chose a 14 month old male named Jeck. Unfortunately, a few days after picking up Jeck we discovered he was afraid of stairs. Jeck had to be brought back to the kennel. In return, we chose a 21 month German Shepherd male named Viepo. To this date, Viepo has been working out great and, hopefully, will continue to serve the Town of Somerset for years to come.
Thank you to all who donated in any way to our new Somerset Police Department K-9 Unit!! Your generosity made this possible.