The Middletown Division of Police Department’s canine unit, which officials say has helped reduce crime in the city, will have five canine officers this summer.
After the retirement of two canine officers, Middletown is picking up three dogs Friday from Pennsylvania, then police officers Gary Bender, Evan Mosley and Lindsey Schwarber will begin training the dogs March 3, according to Maj. David Birk.
Before that, the dogs will get acclimated to home environment, he said.
The West Chester Police Department also is picking up a dog Friday.
The dogs are originally from Germany, and each costs $8,000. Of the $24,000, fundraisers from the Fraternal Order Police Auxiliary, Moose Lodge and Riders for Life generated $16,000, officials said. The other $8,000 will come out of the police department’s budget.
Birk said once the three dogs are trained, the city plans to have a canine on duty at all times. They will join Denny Jordan, 48, and Tony Gibson, 31, and their canines, Koda and Bear, on the force.
“These canines give a great additional tool to our officers to combat crime in Middletown,” Birk said. “They are valued members of our department.”
Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw and City Manager Doug Adkins have said the canines have assisted in reducing crime and drug overdoses in the city by getting drugs off the street.
Heroin overdoses dropped 49 percent in Middletown last year as the city’s total dipped to its lowest level of overdoses and deaths in three years. Middletown’s had 493 heroin overdoses and 53 deaths in 2018 compared to 966 heroin overdoses, of which 77 were fatal, in 2017.
Two of the department’s canines, Chase and Aki, have retired and will remain at home with their handlers, Ryan Morgan and Marco Caito, respectively.
Bender, 37, has 12 years experience; Mosley, 30, has been on the force for three years; and Schwarber, 29, has been a police officer for two years, according to police records.