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Orland Park’s police dog just got more hard-core

Hary shows off his new ballistic vest. He's 4½-year-old German Shepherd member OrlPark Police Department.

Hary shows off his new ballistic vest. He's a 4½-year-old German Shepherd and a member of the Orland Park Police Department.

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Updated: July 17, 2014 11:11AM



Hary’s going to feel a little safer patrolling the streets thanks to a new outfit that does more than just bring out his eyes.

Hary is a 4½-year-old German Shepherd and a member of the Orland Park Police Department. He’s been helping to protect the southwest suburb for three years and is responsible for over 125 narcotics arrests and 30 vehicle seizures while at the side of Officer Dave Staszak.

But fighting crime is dangerous for canines too. The good news is that Hary just received a bullet- and stab-resistant vest through the efforts of nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s Inc.

Established in 2009, the organization has provided protective vests to over 930 law enforcement dogs. With vests like Hary’s costing $950 each, Vested Interest has relied on private and corporate sponsorships, as well as a recent Groupon campaign, to fund the potentially life-saving armor for canine officers nationwide.

Dogs like Hary go through intense training in order to be certified to work as police officers. Their presence on police forces varies from station to station; Hary is the sole canine officer in Orland Park.

The National Police Canine Association, which has placed 105 dogs in the North Central region, usually begins training dogs when they reach age 2. They also spend up to 12 weeks with their individual handler before becoming certified canine officers.

“Training is nonstop. At the end of the day it’s just a dog, so you have to constantly train them,” said Ryan Sumner, regional director of the National Police Canine Association. “Obedience is key to training a police dog.”

Hary, who is certified through the Illinois State Police, experiences obedience training every day, as well as weekly group sessions with members of other local units.

“Police canines are a very beneficial tool in law enforcement,” Staszak, who works most closely with Hary, said in an email. “Hary can be utilized during our assigned shift, or on a callout basis 24/7. K9 Hary is used almost daily during our shift, mostly in narcotics detection.”

With heightened senses, police dogs are able to create a safer environment for their human partners when in the field, but police officers are just as focused on the safety of their four-legged guides.

“I am concerned for K-9 Hary’s safety on a daily basis, just like any other officer I work with. It is my responsibility to make sure he and I go home at the end of our shift in the same condition in which we began,” Staszak said.

Body armor, like that provided by Vested Interest, is necessary in some of a police dog’s most dangerous situations. When there is a possibility that a suspect is armed, Staszak has made sure that Hary has been wearing a ballistic vest. “The vest provides protection against handgun rounds and knives,” Staszak explained. “The vest provided to us by Vested [Interest] in K9s allows Hary to perform his duties while being protected.”

To learn more about Vested
Interest in K9s, visit vik9s.org.



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