YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Talk about hitting the ground sniffing.
Before taking his official bow last week as Yorktown’s newest police recruit, the German shepherd already had helped take a drug offender off the streets, Police Chief Robert Noble told a roomful of officials, including state Sen. Terrence Murphy, who had taken a personal interest in the officer in question.
“Just last night, I want you to know that K-9 Spar, along with Officer (Michael) Campion and Officer (James) Hannigan, made a self-initiated traffic stop which resulted in a drug arrest. Heroin was the drug.”
“Awesome,” Murphy, listening to the proceedings on Skype, intoned.
“The officers were the eyes,” Noble said, “but Spar had the snout, and that closed the deal on that collar.”
After Noble presented Murphy’s representative with a proclamation expressing gratitude for his support and his ability to secure a $10,000 grant to purchase a second canine for the department, Murphy explained the roots of his interest in coming to the department’s aid.
“I’ve been in Yorktown all of my life,” Murphy told attendees at the June 19 Town Board meeting. “I remember as a 6-year-old seeing a Yorktown police officer with a dog, and that it made me feel safe.”
Noble, who was joined at the podium by former and retired handlers, including Councilman Tom Diana, said the K-9 program has been a “proud tradition in the Yorktown Police Department,” spanning some 40 years until the retirement, in 2014, of Moose. Moose served as Yorktown Police Sgt. Justin Foley’s partner for nine years; he died in February at the age of 14.
After that K-9’s retirement, however, the program went on hiatus until last year, when Dallas, a black Labrador, joined the force, thanks to donations from the Yorktown Citizens Task Force Against Heroin and other community members.
Noble said that, unlike Dallas, whose handler is Officer Thomas Beyrer, “Spar is a dual-purpose patrol canine. He can detect narcotics; he can track. He will apprehend if need be.”
Spar, furthermore, represents the fulfillment of one of Noble’s goals: to revive the department’s K-9 program.
“I believe that having this K-9 program is a proactive message to the community that our town is ready to fight the fight against drug dealers in Yorktown,” he said.
Diana, who had worked with two canines during his police career and founded the Yorktown Citizen Task Force Against Heroin, said, “I was happy to be able to start the Drug Detention Canine Program with K-9 Dallas. It is equally pleasing to see that program growing with the addition of K-9 Spar.
“I wish K-9 Spar the best of luck in apprehending the bad guys. If we can stop criminal activity before it gets into town, then we’re doing our jobs.”
Noble said the $10,000 grant paid for 70 percent of the cost of bringing Spar on board; the other 30 percent was provided by an anonymous donor. He also recognized local business owners who contributed both materials and services to help cover the costs of Spar’s care, from free food and grooming to discounted veterinary aid and the retrofitting of a vehicle for his transport.
But, Noble said, “Spar does not happen without the senator.”
“I appreciate all that’s being done to fight against crime and the raging heroin and opioid epidemic,” Supervisor Ilan Gilbert said. “Receiving the second canine with the help of Senator Murphy is another tool in the toolbox we can use to keep our residents safe and reduce the incidence of crime.”