Griffith Police Department's Patrolman First Class Robert Gutierrez is counting on a more streamlined police force with the addition of the town’s first police dog.
Gutierrez, a 12-year veteran with the department, applied for the position of canine officer after becoming interested in drug interdiction.
He will be paired with a dog in April, most likely a German Shepherd, after it arrives from Germany and undergoes more training from the International K9 College in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“The canine program was initiated so Griffith officers could have a much-needed tool to utilize in their daily duties, which in the past have depended on other police agencies to provide,” he said.
“The dog will be able to track wanted criminals, reduce time needed to search buildings, locate illegal narcotics/weapons in schools or in hidden vehicle compartments, and quickly locate evidence at crime scenes.”
A 1996 Merrillville High School graduate, Gutierrez also chairs the canine program fundraising committee to coordinate fundraising events.
“The average price for the purchase of the canine and canine handler’s course is $12,000 to $17,000,” Gutierrez said.
“The major cost for implementing a new police dog is the police canine vehicle. Maintenance costs depend on food, veterinary care, and yearly training prices,” he added.
An Indiana Law Enforcement Academy graduate, Gutierrez typically enforces traffic laws and town ordinances while on patrol.
“Every day is different and you meet some very interesting people. You get an opportunity to positively impact someone’s life,” he said.
Businesses and individuals are welcome to donate cash to Griffith's canine program, or provide supplies, grooming or veterinary care. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A father of five, Gutierrez attends Living Stones Fellowship Church in Crown Point and enjoys yard work and home improvement projects.
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