Community service

Highland Park Police Department adds new community service, welfare dog to its department

The Highland Park Police Department welcomed a highly trained walking dog into their home on Sunday after the dog completed training in Florida. | Photo provided

The newest member of the Highland Park Police Department arrived on Sunday – their first community service and welfare dog, whose purpose will be to help relieve stress.

The highly trained walking dog arrived in Highland Park on Sunday with police officers Mike Lodesky and Darren Graff.

The “pawfficer” will play a vital role in helping provide comfort and support to people in need who seek help from the police department, the village said.

The dog’s service will primarily focus on situations where it can reduce stress and fear in people who have been the victim of a crime or other emergency.

It will also travel through the community, stopping at schools and community events.

Students from schools in North Shore School District 112 and Highland Park High School were asked last month to submit name suggestions for the dog.

Officials said name options will soon be presented to the dog next to the treat plates, and the dog will choose a treat and name before beginning training with Highland Park officers.

The dog was trained for free by Paws & Stripes College, a program of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.

The program represents a second chance both for the dogs, who are all shelters, and for the carefully selected and trained inmates at county jails, who serve as trainers.

City officials said trainers work hard to train the dogs in voice commands, hand signals and other obedience skills, in addition to advanced training to serve as therapy dogs for victims and victims. people in crisis.

“We are thrilled to bring our first K9 community resource to Highland Park,” said Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen.

“As a department, we are committed to implementing innovative ways to serve our community and improve our ability to respond compassionately to crises and stressful situations. Our new Community Service Dog will provide essential emotional support to those in need and accompany our officers on visits to the community, engaging with residents of all ages,” said Jogmen.

Ongoing community engagement to build relationships with residents and businesses is one of the city’s primary public safety goals, officials said.

The addition of a community service dog will augment the police department’s mental health and crisis response toolkit, which includes mental health first aid training for all officers and training in crisis intervention for all officers after two years of service.