GHDPS hopes to add K-9 officer

By early next year, there could be a new four-legged police officer in town.
Becky Vargo
Jun 25, 2014


Grand Haven Department of Public Safety officers hope enough funds are in place to acquire a new K-9 partner before the new year.

“It’s been a priority since (Director Jeff) Hawke got here,” said Sgt. Mike Ercole, who previously handled two dogs for the department.

Ercole said the department’s entire staff is involved in getting the campaign rolling.

Although local police can use K-9 units through the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department and state police, “it’s all about access,” Ercole said. “There’s no waiting around.”

Hawke said the department hasn’t had a dog since Remax left in 2010.

“We didn’t get another dog right away,” he said. “Funding was very tight. The program was discontinued.”

Hawke said the department has already had several generous donations toward the expected $17,000 to $20,000 cost. That breaks down to about $10,000 to purchase the dog, training and retrofitting an existing patrol car with the kennel they already own. Hawke said veterinary services and dog food will be donated.

Hawke said the police dog would track criminals, lost children and vulnerable adults, look for illegal drugs, and locate evidence. The dog can also be used for community relations.

“It will be a fantastic tool for connecting with kids,” Hawke said. “Our dog will be making many visits in conjunction with our D.A.R.E. officer to the schools. We’ll work to pursue good relationships with kids of elementary school age.”

The department will be taking applications for the dog handler.

“The handler has to build a bond with the dog,” Hawke said. The handler “has to be a very skilled public safety officer in all areas of the job to take on the extra responsibility. There’s an extra level of dedication and availability to take on the K-9 unit.”

Hawke said once a handler is selected, they would pick a dog provider and then the dog. After that, a recommendation would be made to City Council for final approval.

The dog will most likely be either a German, Dutch or Belgian shepherd.

“We want a very social dog,” Hawke said. “We want to make sure we get the right dog for the department and the community.”

Re/Max Grand Haven is hosting a fundraising event for the new dog at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Grand Haven Eagles. Tickets are $10. Prizes will also be offered.

You can also make a cash donation at the Department of Public Safety, 525 Washington Ave.; or at City Hall, 519 Washington Ave.



I have to say it is about time I feel we should add one long time ago


More wasteful spending. Ottawa County and the State Police have 5 dogs locally available at anytime. When GH had a dog early they spent more time outside the city and in other counties. Maybe the council should look at the amount of calls which the other dog units have been requested. More duplication of services.


Did you read the same news story? Donations....... It has more to do with response times. While the Ottawa County and State Police dogs are very good, it's about availability.


Hardly a waste of money. Yes the county has dogs (the state locally??), there is sometimes only one dog on to cover the whole county. Therefore, they could be somewhere else in the county and take a while to get to the city of GH. You do know how big the county is, and how long it could take to get from one border to the other.

I think it's a great idea, and as mentioned, a lot of the money if from donations.


It is a great idea and not wasteful spending. It will be good to have a K-9 stationed in GH for better response here and the greater GH area if need be. Nice job Chief Hawke.


Had a patrol vehicle marked as "Supervisor" follow me for half an hour in Duncan Woods because my dog did what dogs do in three feet of leaves off the beaten path. Ticketed me for 50 bucks and not too long after, a kid died sledding there and the City defense was that they didn't maintain/supervise park. But they did/do collect monies by enforcing rules of park. Maybe new dog can sniff out the poop deep in the leaves to give city more cash. Or just hire more summer time officers to give minors breathalyzers at random.


And what does that have to do with this story. Let it go.


Make sure the K9 stays off the beach and is on a leash and u pick up the poo, and its neutered or spayed, is licensed and has all its shots or someones gonna call animal control ! !


So how will this make the community more safer?


Google is your friend. Not sure what you don't understand how a K9 unit isn't a good thing or make it safer.


I don't think it's a waste at all. I think it's great! People underestimate how smart and helpful dogs can be to police officers. The dog in that picture is so cute.


Right! Look at that face. Who wouldn't want one? Happy faced dog tracking down leads. I love it.


Lets see on the Ottawa County Sheriff's website they list 8 requests for service by Grand Haven Public Safety. That hardly seems justification for Grand Haven Public Safety needing their own K9 Unit. Maybe I would give that money to the state police or Ottawa County for an additional dog team. That seems more financial responsible so all the residents benefits instead of just only Grand Haven City.


That's eight (8) Recorded physical assists to Grand Haven. It doesn't show how many times the Grand Haven Officers verbally requested a dog and the handler was off duty or on the other side of the County. Nice try.

ohwell they will be saying we don't need the GHPSD either. All because we have the State Police and OCSD.


I believe the newspaperlawyer may have an agenda. His perspective on the matter could be a bit clouded....being an ex OCSD deputy and all.


Not hardly.. just speaks facts and not false statements like the olwell and other cop buddies. Just think.. you can pay 10.00 at the local bar have a few beers and then get stop by GH finest for drunk driving. But that's right they don't sit outside of the Eagles arresting their own.


Your facts are fuzzy and your animosity towards the local police is shining through again.


would the dog and handler be available 24hrs a day?


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