With the Peoria Police Department’s K-9 unit limited to patrol and drug detection, officers are looking to expand the services they provide by acquiring an explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) dog.
But with a $15,000 cost to acquire such a K-9 standing in the way, a group of Peoria citizens has stepped in to lend a hand.
The Peoria Police Citizens’ Academy Alumni (PPCAA) — a nonprofit charitable, fundraising organization dedicated to supporting the police department, the Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.) program and the Peoria Police Citizens’ Academy — is working to raise these funds.
Currently, the police department employs three patrol K-9s: Faris, 4; Roco, 9; and Quinzee, 3, all of whom are Belgian Malinois. The dogs are cross-trained in drug detection, according to Officer Brandon Sheffert, a spokesman for the department.
Adding an EOD K-9 “would help us in our efforts to provide full services to our residents,” Sheffert told Peoria Times.
“We do not currently have an EOD dog and we utilize other agencies for this. This would give us the ability to handle these functions ourselves.”
And according to Sheffert, the EOD K-9 would boost safety precautions taken at large events, such as spring training games. Officers could use the dog to sweep the stadium.
As part of its continued efforts, PPCAA has teamed up with local restaurant Kawaii Sushi and Asian Cuisine to hold a fundraiser. Both Kawaii locations — 6530 W. Happy Valley Road, Suite 112, Glendale; and 8385 W. Deer Valley Road, Suite 114, Peoria — will donate 20% of all proceeds, including gift card sales, earned from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 25. Patrons must present a flier — which can be printed from the organization’s Facebook page — to have their purchases count.
“We are extremely grateful for the efforts of the PPCAA and the Peoria community,” Sheffert said.
But these efforts go back further.
“In the past … we purchased things like a drone for the department,” explained Elise Slagle, PPCAA vice president. “As far as K-9, we’ve done obstacles for their K-9 training facility, we purchased a bulletproof vest for one of their K-9s, and then we do various other things throughout the year just to show support in that way, like providing water for the department, meals for officers on Christmas Eve, just all kinds of things.”
The current efforts were born from PPCAA members’ attendance during K-9 training, where they learned the department is still lacking its own dedicated explosive detection dog, Slagle said.
She and her colleagues at PPCAA ultimately sought the support of Kawaii, as they had already established a relationship with the West Valley Asian restaurant.
“Kawaii has shown support by donating food to us to provide for the department in the past, so we just reached out to them to see if they wanted to do a 20% restaurant night, seeing that they’ve done similar efforts in the past for Las Brisas PTSA,” she explained.
According to restaurant spokesman Mathias Spear, accepting PPCAA’s offer was a given for owner Kelly Yu and her family, whose operations are heavily integrated in the community.
“Her warm heart and her caring heart and the family’s kind of living in the community, they really have a community approach to working with people,” Spear said.
The restaurant has worked with everything from the Sunrise Mountain High School music program to the local fire department, according to Spear, though youth sports and police tend to be a common theme.
“Kawaii is someone that, and Kelly in particular, wants to help,” Spear said. “They are themselves a successful business, but they believe in giving back to the community.”
Supporting agencies like that of the police just makes sense, as the benefits come full circle, according to Spear.
“The police one is an easy one because they look after all of our safety and support our community, and provide security for not only us but for the business,” he explained.
“It just seemed like something that we really would want to support for our community and obviously making it a safer place, so we decided to move forward with it,” she said.
Slagle estimated PPCAA is currently projected to have raised half of the $15,000 needed for the new K-9 through previous fundraising efforts.
“If it surpasses the number and that money was set aside for the K-9 unit — for example, if someone makes a donation and says, ‘We want this to go toward the bomb-sniffing dog’ — that money would stay in an account for K-9 to use in the future; it would just be put into our budget that way,” Slagle explained. “If there’s just general fundraising in the future, we do set that aside for future needs for them.”
Kawaii fundraiser aside, donations will also be accepted directly at facebook.com/ppcaa, and checks can be mailed to PPCAA: 8351 W. Cinnabar Avenue, Peoria AZ 85345.