YORKTOWN, N.Y. - It’s said that the key to a healthy work/life balance is to leave work at the door before heading home. Yorktown Police Department’s Officer Thomas Beyrer will no longer have that luxury, and he couldn’t be happier about it.
Thanks to donations from the Yorktown Citizens Task Force Against Heroin and other community members, the Yorktown native will be joined by a new partner on the force: Ditto, a 2-year-old black Lab fresh out of K-9 training.
After four years with the department, Beyrer is excited for both the career move, and the new addition to his family. As Ditto’s handler (her name is subject to change), she will be his partner for life.
“I’m excited,” Beyrer said. “I’m just looking forward the new opportunity and overall I’m excited about what the town has been doing to get narcotics off the street.”
It took close to a year for the task force and the department to ensure funds were secured, vet potential partners for Ditto, and to search for a training facility and K-9, said Tom Diana, town councilman and chair of the task force.
A retired police officer himself, Diana had the idea to invest in a K-9 for the department after a successful fundraiser last June. Having worked with two K-9s during his police career, he said, he knew the addition would be beneficial to Yorktown’s department and its ongoing effort to stop narcotics traffic in the area.
“It was a very great time in my career and I’m happy that we’re able to reinstate it in the town of Yorktown,” he said. “I think if we can stop these drugs on the street before they get to anybody, it’s a home run.”
He hopes the presence of the K-9 unit in Yorktown will assist the department and deter dealers.
“Our mission statement is education, enforcement and elimination,” Diana said on behalf of the task force. “This is the enforcement part.”
Police Chief Robert Noble said one of his goals was to bring back the K-9 unit, which was discontinued about three years ago. With support from the task force as well as other community members, Noble said, the unit’s revival—which comes with a roughly $13,000 price tag—would not have been possible. He called Diana “the driving force” behind the plan.
They both said community organizations and members have rallied behind the cause. Everything from a year’s supply of dog food from Dominic Sansotta, to a retired SUV from the Mohegan Volunteer Fire Association, has been supplied at no cost to the police department. Additionally, Perry Gusikoff, owner of Yorktown Auto Body, offered to assist in whatever work the vehicle may need; Douglas Ofner offered to help outfit the vehicle with the necessary supplies; and Yorktown Chamber of Commerce President Eric DiBartolo donated a bullet-proof vest for Ditto’s uniform, Diana said.
“It truly is a community effort and something I’m proud of,” Noble said.
Noble said he hopes the K-9 unit will be a positive contribution to the community. By the end of her training, Ditto's sensitive nose will be able to detect hidden narcotics such as crack cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
“No suburb is immune to it; our communities are on the frontline,” he said. “The Hudson Valley has been determined to be a high-intensity drug trafficking area, so with that in mind, this is just another way we get to be proactive and aggressive in finding drugs in our community.”
Beyrer will join Ditto next month at K-2 Services, a threat mitigation and canine services facility in Moore County, N.C., for a four-week training period. Noble said he anticipates the duo will be ready to start working together by Sept. 1. The announcement was made at a press conference the morning of June 20.
While enforcement is certainly a focus of the town’s efforts to get a leg up on the drug crisis, Supervisor Michael Grace and town justices Sal Lagonia and Gary Raniolo announced another upcoming initiative that addresses a different layer of the drug crisis through a misdemeanor drug court program for the town of Yorktown.
The town-specific initiative would be modeled similarly to Putnam County’s Drug Court program, which was established in 2002 as an alternate to incarceration for non-violent drug and alcohol offenders.
The court, probation department, sheriff’s department and social service and treatment professionals work in conjunction with the intent to actively intervene and break the cycle of substance abuse. Participants typically complete the program in two years.
“Were trying to keep Yorktown safe for everybody,” stressed Grace. “[It’s] not just enforcement, it’s compassion.”
Lagonia predicts the drug court will be up and running by this fall.
He added that the court is looking forward to the addition of the K-9 unit to the town’s “arsenal” and believes it will add another layer of credibility to help the courts “get to the truth of every case.”