Although he does not finish training until July 1, Taz, the newest member of Clarkstown Police Department's K-9 Unit, already made his debut.
Taz was officially presented to the police department along with a new DARE vehicle by Craig Schultz of Schultz Ford in Nanuet on Friday.
Police Chief Michael Sullivan welcomed the donations.
"It's a tremendous benefit not only to the police department but the community," said Chief Sullivan. "With economic conditions what they are, it's great that local businesses step up to the plate. We're grateful."
Taz, a sable shepherd, is still going through a 14-week training program with his handler, Officer Michael Keane. Schultz also paid for the training. 18-month-old Taz and Officer Keane are the third dog and officer to join the town's K-9 unit.
There are a lot of uses for the K-9 unit," said Chief Sullivan. "At least one use for the dog every day. With a dog you set up the perimeter and the dog goes in and saves a lot of time."
In addition to the vehicle donated to Clarkstown's DARE program, Craig Schultz also gave a Ford Focus this year to the Orangetown Police and Rockland County Sheriff departments' programs. Schultz said DARE is an important tool for teaching students how to avoid situations involving drugs.
"We feel that DARE education is a valuable program to supplement what goes on in our local schools," said Schultz. "It teaches the students about the dangers of drugs, how to have a drug free life, how to handle peer pressure and to stay away from violence. It is our hope that by donating the cars, the DARE program can continue to reach as many of the students in Rockland County as it possibly can."
Clarkstown's specially trained dogs have been used to search for drugs at Wally's Ice Cream Parlour in New City, track Eric Lau accused of murdering his Valley Cottage neighbor Jami Erlich and conduct building and school searches.
Chief Sullivan hopes to use the dogs in other types of incidents.
"We are starting to use dogs in tactical situations," he said, such as when someone is barricaded in a building.
Officer Robert Reilly takes King, his five-year-old German Shepherd "partner" on school searches. They finish much quicker than if officers had to inspect classrooms and lockers.
"I can take my dog and run him straight down a hallway and clear that section," said Reilly.
Law enforcement officials from the Orangetown Police Department and Rockland County Sheriff's Department also attended.
Chief of Patrol for the Sheriff's Department Louis Falco said his department is also adding to its K-9 unit.
That dog will also complete training on July 1 with a speciality in drugs and tracking.
"The primary function of the dog is the correctional facility to make sure it stay free of drugs brought in from outside," said Chief Falco. "The new dog used for tracking drugs was purchased through asset forfeiture money, no tax dollars, same with the officer and dog training."
The sheriff's department already has one canine trained to help with arson cases and three trained to search for bombs and accelerants. Those dogs assist the town police departments and state police with arson and bomb investigations.
The value of the donation of three 2010 Ford Focus cars with DARE logos and the dog for the K-9 unit is about $55,000. Schultz said they are happy to give back to the community that they have been part of for more than 60 years.