Merrillville adds two K-9s to force
Generous contributions have helped the Merrillville Police Department add two more K-9s to the police force.
K-9 Blue and K-9 Yaga officially joined the Department during a swearing-in ceremony at the Tuesday (Aug. 22) Town Council meeting.
“Welcome aboard, I know you guys will do a great job,” Merrillville Police Chief Kosta Nuses said.
Nuses said each K-9 costs about $12,500, and that doesn’t include all of the certification, training, and equipment costs to add the dogs to the force.
K-9 Blue comes to Merrillville thanks to a donation from The Hall Family Foundation.
Randy Hall, President of Luxor Homes, said his family’s foundation was happy to make a donation to the Merrillville Police Department.
“With our growing business within the Town borders, we are excited to continue to contribute to the community,” Hall said.
Luxor Homes is developing the new Liberty Estates community off Whitcomb Street. It will offer new construction homes at price levels for many families.
“Luxor Homes is also committed to making donations to area charities upon every house sale,” Hall said.
Baden K-9 and Fox News host and contributor Lawrence Jones partnered to make a contribution that helped bring K-9 Yaga to the Merrillville Police Department.
Joshua Perry, of Baden K-9, said the multi-service company has been around for more than 50 years. Baden K-9, which is in Ontario, Canada, regularly donates to law enforcement and other service organizations.
“I think it’s needed more, especially with everything that’s going on with law enforcement,” Perry said. He said Lawrence Jones is a close friend, and Jones also is a big law enforcement supporter.
“From the goodness of his heart, he’s aligned himself with Baden K-9 to support law enforcement,” Perry said. “We look forward to continuing to support not just Merrillville but other agencies.”
Merrillville Officer Nick Wright is the handler for K-9 Blue, a Dutch Shepherd, and Merrillville Officer Ian Fultz is the handler for K-9 Yaga, a Belgian Malinois.
Both dogs were bred and trained at Baden K-9, and they will serve as dual-purpose K-9s. They are trained to detect illegal narcotics, and they can track missing people. Both dogs can also track and apprehend fleeing criminals.
“The Town Council cannot thank enough The Randy Hall Family Foundation and Baden K-9 and Mr. Lawrence Jones for their kind act and support for MPD’s K-9 program,” Town Council President Rick Bella said. “And we certainly must thank the police officer K-9 handlers for taking on this added responsibility as these dogs actually become part of their families and require 24/7 support and care.”
Nuses described the K-9s as a priceless tool for the Police Department. Merrillville now has four dogs in the K-9 unit with the addition of Blue and Yaga, and that allows for a K-9 officer to serve on each shift.
The expansion of the K-9 unit isn’t the only way the Police Department is enhancing services in the community.
Nuses on Tuesday discussed continued efforts to address speeding and reckless driving in Merrillville.
He said preliminary numbers for July show officers made 435 traffic stops and issued more than 200 tickets.
“This is something that’s going to continue,” Nuses said.
The Police Department obtained traffic data from digital speed limit signs throughout the Town. That information is being used to target certain locations, which resulted in more traffic enforcement that began Saturday in Merrillville.
“They’re going to be hitting areas that we have deemed problem areas for speeding,” Nuses said. “You’re going to be seeing a lot more officers writing tickets.”
He also said many residents have reached out to him since he was sworn in as chief in July, and he’s thankful for those conversations.
“They have been bringing a lot of things to light that we never knew were an issue until now,” Nuses said. “I think this is a huge step in the right direction to establish a good relationship with the public.”
He said residents can serve as the eyes and ears of the Police Department.
“There’s a lot more people in the public than there are police officers, so if we have that relationship and build that trust, I think it’s going to be a game changer for us in fixing things,” Nuses said.
Residents interested in discussing concerns and ideas with Nuses can reach him at (219) 769-3722.