Mantua – As many people know, Lieutenant Ken Justus and his K9 partner Vader have been working successfully to keep the Mantua community safe on behalf of the Mantua Police Department. Due to the overwhelming success of that partnership, the department would like to add a second K9 unit to the force. As many local communities fight the war on drugs in local neighborhoods, streets and sidewalks, the Mantua Village Police Department is heading back to school. This new K9 will be assigned to Officer Urso, for use inside Crestwood Schools on a daily basis.
Mantua’s School Resource Officer (SRO) Joe Urso is no stranger to Crestwood Schools. He has become well known throughout the district, not only as a calming force for kids during lock-down drills, and a comforting presence to staff and teachers, but also as friendly face, never too busy to high-five students. But there’s only so much that SRO Urso can accomplish by himself. With a new, specially trained partner, SRO Urso will have another tool to protect Crestwood students.
The dog is being acquired through a specialized trainer, Mr. Paul Shaughnessy of Excel K9 Services, located in Hiram Township. Through a special arrangement, Excel K9 Services will provide a trained German Shepherd to the Mantua Police Department. “The cost of the dog is being donated to the Department,” shared Lt. Justus. “Vader and the new dog come from the same kennel in Hiram,” he remarked. “Vader is a patrol and narcotics dog. The new dog will be trained in narcotics only.” Officer Urso added, “I don’t know of any other school district that has had this opportunity presented to them. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity for Crestwood Local Schools.”
But a project like this comes with a price tag — around $10,000 — and the project is being funded completely by donations. “The money we raise will be used to cover the cost of the training, certification, and equipment needed to place the dog in service with Officer Urso,” stated Lt. Justus. “We hope to be able to raise enough funds to begin this project before the end of the month.”
Excel K9 will conduct training for the dog and his partner, Officer Urso. Once certified, the dog will be trained to identify the odors of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamines, and ecstasy. Through this special program, Officer Urso and his narcotics-trained K9 could be in the schools within a very short time. According to Officer Urso, “We are about 1/4 of the way there with the funding. Together, we can make this opportunity a reality!”
Donations can be sent to: Mantua Village, Police K9 Donation Fund, P.O. Box 775, Mantua, Ohio 44255, or simply dropped off at the Police Department or the Clerks Office at Mantua Village Hall.