Salem Police Department’s K-9s Had a Busy Year in 2021 | News, Sports, Jobs
SALEM — Salem Police Department K-9s Simon and Argo detected narcotic odors that led to the seizure of 168.7 grams of marijuana and 80 grams of confirmed methamphetamine last year.
As for other drugs, Patrol Officer Mike Garber, who is in charge of Simon, said it’s difficult to give exact figures on the amounts seized because they find many combinations of drugs, such as cocaine and fentanyl together.
They also seized some cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin, but the largest seizure involved a compound of fentanyl and carfentanil. Many tested substances come back as multiple substances.
According to the mission summary for Simon and Argo, whose partner is Patrolman Steve LaRosa, the two K-9s recorded a total of 156 missions in 2021, with the majority, 104, for narcotics detection and 52 for patrol missions in support of area property searches searches, pursuit, preservation of evidence and arrest of suspects were logged.
Garber and K-9 Simon had 50 detection missions with 336 search areas, 48 warnings/advice on a narcotic odor and 59 items seized. They had 39 patrols, finding 20 people.
LaRosa and K-9 Argo had 53 detection missions with 358 search areas, 47 warnings/advice on a narcotic odor and 43 items seized. They had 13 patrols, finding 28 people.
According to Garber, the number of documented arrests related to the K-9s was 53. The 2021 report showed the busiest day of the week for sorties was a tie between Thursday and Friday. The busiest month was February with 26 deployments. The busiest week was the last week of August with 12 deployments. He said 49 calls were for outside agencies, including the Perry Township Police, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Columbiana County Drug Task Force and the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are successful because everyone works together, including our community that supports us.” Garber said.
He said that the K-9 unit as a team includes not only the dogs and handlers, but also Chief JT Panezott, the city government, the patrolmen and shift sergeants. He also counted the community who donated to the Salem Police K-9 fund through the Salem Community Foundation and made purchases on the Salem K-9 website or simply tuned in to watch Simon Sundays on Facebook Live. He also thanked SCF Grants Coordinator Melissa Costa for all of her help with the fund and website.
He said 2021 is an interesting year because they’re coming out of 2020, when the K-9s weren’t able to reach the public through demonstrations or community events. It was then that Garber started the Simon Sundays to talk about what they were doing, drawing viewers from across the country and around the world.
The K-9 also have their own Facebook page and due to its popularity launched the website spdk9.com in 2021 as a means of helping the community to share what the K-9 and their handlers are doing and how they are doing it and see who they are. The site includes an online store to purchase K-9 gear such as mugs, t-shirts, or stickers. All proceeds support the K-9 program, as does the SCF Salem Police Department’s K-9 fund, which was established in 2015.
Both Garber and LaRosa have been active in raising awareness and raising funds to purchase equipment, training and education, and to cover medical costs for Salem’s K-9.
Contributions to the K-9 Fund can be made through PayPal “donate now” button on the K-9 website or by sending a check to: Salem Community Foundation, Attn: SPD K-9 Fund, PO Box 553, Salem, Ohio 44460.
“Our community is what supports us and keeps us going.” Garber said, adding that they could return to the community for events in 2021.
He said the last year was also good for training, as both he and LaRosa took courses on medical information, legal updates, and the practical use of K-9s. They also did a lot of hands-on training last year, much through the Police K-9 Association. Both K-9s turned 6 last year and will celebrate their 7th birthday this year, Simon in April and Argo in October. He said they look forward to long, healthy careers.
Garber said the group of dealers in the area works well together, noting Salem, Columbiana and the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office in particular.
“We’ve created a good system here in Salem with a K-9 working every day and available for missions,” he said.
Garber noted on social media Tuesday night that he and Simon were fine after being in a Fender Bender Tuesday afternoon, but their cruiser sustained some damage. This is just one example of how they keep the public informed.
“We are very grateful for the community that supports us. We are grateful for all the support we receive from officers and dispatchers when we go on assignments.” Garber said.