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Oakboro Police to add new K-9 program

The town of Oakboro’s police department will expand by two positions in the coming weeks.

However, the only pay those officers will receive will be in sacks of dog food, toys and treats.

Two Oakboro officers have been selected to receive K-9 units as part of a new program, according to Chief T.J. Smith.

Oakboro sergeants Jason Eschert and David Daigle have selected dogs through a program completely funded by community donations. No money from the county’s budget will go to the program, at least for the first year.

Both dogs are named after characters in the D.C. Comics Universe. Eschert’s dog is named Bane, and Daigle’s K-9 is Joker. (Note: The previous information is corrected from the print edition in terms of the names of the officer’s new K-9 partners.)

“After talking with the majority of business owners, (there is a) need for the town and the community surrounding it,” Smith said regarding the new program. “Receiving donations from business owners in Oakboro spoke volumes of the need for the K-9 program.”

Dog food has been donated by the local Food Lion while funding for training and dog care have been made possible by donations and pledges from various businesses in Oakboro.

The police department got the go-ahead from the Oakboro Town Council unanimously at the February meeting.

Modern police dogs have multiple functions for police, including drug or article searches. Those searches can be on people, in cars or after foot pursuits to find illegal items discarded by a suspect along with tracking suspects or missing people.

Eschert said police dogs are “another tool in our toolbox to combat crime…it’s very similar to having obviously a second officer right when we’re working. He’s kind of like our backup.”

He said the presence of a police dog “can deescalate a situation or prevent it from escalating. They may get subjects to comply.”

Unlike human partners, though, dogs become a part of an officer’s family. When it comes to work, though, the dog and officer are true partners.

Daigle said having a police dog means Oakboro can also assist with other local agencies like the sheriff’s office or the highway patrol.

Training for the dogs and officers should be completed by the end of May, Smith said.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored twice by the North Carolina Press Association.

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