TOMS RIVER – The Toms River Police Department is beefing up its K-9 police dog unit by adding two German shepherds and two special vehicles.
The vehicles to be purchased will house a K-9 and its handler in the event an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) must be searched for.
Township Council members recently accepted a $35,000 2018 Homeland Security grant from the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness to help purchase additional vehicles.
“The police department purchased two bomb detection/patrol German shepherds with the help of the Toms River Elks Lodge and the Toms River Police Foundation,” Police Chief Mitchell Little said.
“Each dog costs a little under $10,000. We are currently in search of another organization that would like to sponsor a third K-9. With that said, we needed two more vehicles. The $35,000 grant provided the funding to purchase one vehicle and a portion of the equipment needed,” he said.
The police department currently owns three vehicles that can house a K-9 and its handler during a search for an IED.
Little said it is important for the police department to add two new dogs to its current roster of three K-9s and he said it is important to receive the Homeland Security grant.
“It was extremely important to add these two K-9s to our ranks. We relied heavily on other agencies to conduct bomb sweeps at numerous events and school activities in town. This grant provides us with the resources when we need them at any given time,” he said.
Little said the police department was made aware of the grant through its liaison at the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
He said the police department initiated the process with the support and assistance of the prosecutor’s office.
“With the addition of these two bomb-sniffing dogs, we now have a total of five K-9s in the police department. Three dogs are patrol/narcotics trained and these most recent two dogs are patrol/bomb detection trained.
“All of the K-9s are capable of conducting normal patrol functions such as missing person searches, wanted suspect searches, building searches and the overall protection of our officers.
“The only difference is bomb detection and narcotics detection. K-9s cannot be trained to handle both tasks at the same time. Just to clarify, the new (IED) vehicles are identical to the other three vehicles. They are primarily used to transport and house the K-9 and its handler. The bomb detection is done by the K-9 itself,” Little said.