Manheim’s newest K-9 officer

By on November 21, 2017

K-9 Casper is making himself at home at Manheim Borough PD HQ (Blue Ridge News 11)

Manheim’s newest officer, a K-9 named Casper, received his official badge on Nov. 14. The one-and-a-half year-old German shepherd and his partner, Officer Kirk Colwell, took the oath of office and then greeted council members.

Mayor Scot Funk said that the department conducted a Facebook contest to name the new K-9 earlier this fall. The name that received the most votes was Nash.

“What we didn’t realize is that our K-9 already had a name,” Funk explained. “When Officer Colwell went for his six-week training with the K-9, he found it had already been named Casper. After discussing the situation with the trainers, we decided it would be a bit confusing to rename the K-9.”

“Having a police K-9 is a multi-faceted approach to community relations coupled with our aggressive action toward drug enforcement. Our officers are committed to removing dangerous and illegal drugs from our community. It is no secret that the opioid epidemic is killing our loved ones, leaving families torn apart and affecting our community resources,” said Police chief Joe Stauffer, “When we study our statistics, it becomes clear that drugs and alcohol are the major contributors to our crime. They directly affect our way of living. Drugs hurt our family units and they drive thefts, assaults, domestic violence, DUI and an individual’s ability to be a productive citizen.”

Casper’s first day of duty was Nov. 13, and it was a productive day. Officer Colwell stopped a vehicle, and utilized Casper to locate cocaine.

“He’s been on duty one day and already has one drug arrest,” Funk said.

“I’ve had the honor of working with K-9 handlers when I was serving in Afghanistan. The bond between the K-9 and handler is truly amazing. The number one issue we’re facing right now is heroin. Having a K-9 who can smell and find drugs is a great tool to have,” Colwell said, “Having a K-9 who can track down people, whether it’s a lost child or an adult who’s wandered off, is a big thing; it cuts down on the time it takes to find them. Anything I can do to be better at my job is great.”

“If Casper saves just one life during his service to us, it will make his deployment worth it,” Stauffer stressed.

Stauffer said the K-9 officer is also good for community relations.

“People and children love dogs.K-9 Casper is one of the most friendly police canines I have ever met,” Stauffer said. “He is playful and fun, yet when he has to go to work he is on point. Taking police dogs into schools and community events puts us in a position to talk about why we enforce drug laws with adults and children and how a dog is incredibly capable of finding them.”

Both Funk and Stauffer stressed that the K-9 unit is funded through donations, not tax dollars. Prior donations to the fund purchased Casper and paid for the six-week training program where Casper and Colwell learned to work together as partners.

Stauffer said the department allows Casper to serve other municipalities who do not have a K9 unit, so the donations do not have to solely come from the Manheim community.

Any individual or organization wishing to donate to the police department’s K-9 fund, may contact the department at 717-665-2481.

K-9 Casper and Officer Kirk Colwell (Photo by Rochelle Shenk)

Bye-Bye, Bayne

Casper is the department’s third K-9 officer. He’s replacing Bayne, a German shepherd/malinois mix, who began his service with the police department in May 2013. Like Casper, Bayne was a dual-purpose K-9; he conducted searches for people and drugs. Bayne’s partner was Officer. Aaron Szulborski, who was promoted to detective this summer. With his new responsibilities, Szulborski was not able to continue as Bayne’s partner. Funk said that Officer Colwell stepped up to be the K-9 handler, volunteering to work with Bayne.

“A police K-9 generally has a working life of five years. Bayne was nearing the end of that working life,” Funk explained. “We consulted with trainers and there was some concern that Bayne could possibly have difficulty training with a new partner. Given that, we decided to retire him.”

Bayne has since found a permanent home with the Szulborski family. Bayne was the department’s second K-9 officer. A black Labrador named Coal, who was trained as a drug detection dog, served the department for eight years before retiring in January 2009. He died from cancer in June 2011.

An official retirement ceremony will be held for Bayne as part of Manheim’s Christmas tree lighting festivities Saturday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m., in Market Square. Funk said the public will also have an opportunity to meet Casper at that event. Additionally, Colwell and Casper plan to participate in the Santa Run and Walk 5K that will be held earlier that day.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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