Thanks to a grant from Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Cleveland Heights Police will soon have another dog in the K-9 division.
Roethlisberger announced Dec. 29 that he was giving the eighth and final K-9 grant of the 2011-12 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund to the Cleveland Heights Police Department.
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has distributed the K-9 grants to police and fire departments in the cities and communities of each Steeler’s regular season away game, according to a press release from The Giving Back Fund. The Giving Back Fund describes itself as “a national public charity that creates and professionally manages charitable foundations and other philanthropic programs for athletes, entertainers, business entrepreneurs and corporations.”
The department will receive $9,662 to pay for a trained dog, a ballistic vest to protect the animal and training for the officer in charge of working with the dog, said Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson.
The has a 12-year-old black lab named Reggie who will likely retire soon, and a 2-year-old German Shepherd named Vin.
“With a second dog, we’ll be able to have one on an opposite shift,” Robertson said. “You know, a canine is a great asset and tool in the department. Having one is fantastic, but it’s like with a human, you can’t use them all the time.”
Cleveland Heights Police Officer Sean Gideon attended a six-week training last year and he is now working with Vin, who can help track down suspects, perform drug searches and also interact with people, he said. Reggie is specifically used for drug searches.
“Reggie is still hanging on. He went through a recertification and passed. He’s got great drive and great spirit,” Robertson said.
Robertson hopes to send an officer to training by April or May.
“I like the community aspect of it … The community loves to see a dog,” he said.
When asked about the rivalry, Robertson laughed.
“I was born and raised in Cleveland and I’ve always rooted against the Steelers. But hey, he’s from Ohio and he does this for all the (away) cities around country.”