FLEMINGTON, NJ – The borough’s police newest officer is just 2 years old.
Jax, a Dutch Shepherd, was sworn into office on Saturday in the old Historic Courthouse here.
Jax works as a sidekick for Patrol Officer Greg Zytko. The pair previously worked for the Mansfield (Warren County) Police Department.
Councilperson Marc Hain said the idea of acquiring a police dog first arose when Council was working on its annual budget. But the cost of a dog made it seem like a distant goal.
As it turned out, the borough obtained the dog at no cost to taxpayers, Hain said. Jax cost $15,000, of which about $12,500 came from the county – funded by forfeitures made after arrests.
Getting Zytko and Jax to Flemington took some effort, Hain said, but Mansfield and Flemington shared a key goal; they wanted to keep the pair together.
Jax is trained in detecting narcotics, criminal apprehension, article and evidence searches and can search for missing and wanted persons. After the ceremony, the crowd gathered in Court Street park for a demonstration.
Patrol Officer Phil Canale donned a “bite suit” for the demonstration, and Zytko explained that even with the protective gear, Jax’s bite is ferocious enough to leave bruises behind.
Jax also found narcotics hidden in a Dodge Durango as part of the demonstration.
The community has rallied to help Jax. Barkley's Gourmet Marketplace has volunteered to provide him with food. His veterinary care has been donated by Stockton Veterinary Hospital. Wright & Ford Family Funeral Home and Cremation Services made a large donation to the program by purchasing many items - including the K-9 conversion system for the vehicle, the bite suit for training and equipment that alerts officers via phone if the vehicle gets too hot while Jax is in the back seat.
The vehicle conversion and customization install was completed free of cost by Maxx's Fleet Repairs. Another donor paid for an outdoor kennel that was installed at police headquarters.