WESTBROOK – The Westbrook Police Department is actively recruiting a new police officer, but the one Police Chief Janine Roberts has in mind has four legs and a tail.
At its Feb. 26 meeting, the city council officially accepted an anonymous $2,000 donation to purchase a new K9 dog. The donation comes on the heels of the retirement of Roxie, an 8-year-old German shepherd who served alongside Officer Phil Robinson since February 2012.
Over the years, the duo has been successful in capturing suspects, locating missing persons and finding illegal narcotics. In May 2013, Roxie helped Robinson locate a suicidal male who escaped from an ambulance and was thought to be in the woods near Andover Road — a short dead-end road behind the Cinemagic Movie Theater on Route 22. The individual was found before he was able to take his life. Less than two months later, in July 2013, Roxie and Robinson were called to Cumberland Street to help find an individual with Alzheimer’s who had left his group home. The K-9 team was able to find the confused, overheated and dehydrated individual a mile away on a hiking trail behind the Westbrook Community Center.
In her retirement, Roxie will be living with Robinson and his family.
“It’s really great,” councilor Victor Chau said at the Feb. 26 city council meeting before the council unanimously accepted the donation. “Thank you for doing this and helping out the police department, whoever you are.”
Since Robinson has been selected to the department’s drug investigator position and cannot do both drug and K9 investigation work at the same time, Roberts is currently working to find a K9 investigation officer. Once that K9 handler is selected, Roberts will work with that individual, the department’s other K9 officer and local experts to “find a dog that is a good match for the officer and the officer a good match for it.”
While German shepherds are common police dogs, Roberts will rely on K9 experts to help select the right breed of dog. The donation will help to partially finance bringing on another K9 dog, Roberts said she is “still working on trying to find other funding.” The total cost of the K9 dog, she said, is $8,000 to $10,000.
“The funding piece is the big issue. I don’t currently have funding in my operations budget to cover the additional expense,” Roberts said March 2. “We’d be in a holding pattern until those funds are found or made available.”
The goal, she said, would be to bring the dog, and its partner on as soon as possible.
When hired the new K9 dog would join Brook, a German shepherd who has been partnered with Officer Ben Hall since March 2016. The new dog would first be trained as a patrol dog, work on those skills for a year, and then eventually be trained for narcotics and investigation. Roberts said once fully trained, patrol dogs have the capabilities to track missing and fugitive individuals and search for evidence.
Michael Kelley can be reached at 781-3661 x 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roxie, who has worked alongside Westbrook police officer Phil Robinson since 2012, retired last month. A search for a new K9 dog is underway.