Vinton Police sponsor National Night Out, add K-9 unit
VINTON–The Vinton Police Department hosted a celebration of National Night Out on August 7 with thousands of other communities across the United States. Staff from the Town of Vinton dished up ice cream donated by Homestead Creamery, while Officer Scott Giles from the Carilion Police Department and USA Music Productions acted as DJ.
Mayor Brad Grose thanked both the police and the citizens who attended, many of whom belong to Neighborhood Watch groups, for partnering to make Vinton the safe community that it is.
National Night Out began in 1981 with goals of heightening crime and drug prevention awareness, generating support for local anti-crime programs, strengthening police-community partnerships, and sending a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organizing and fighting back against crime.
Vinton’s Town Council attended the event in lieu of their regular business meeting along with a crowd of about one hundred other citizens, Town staff, and police officers.
Vinton Police Chief Ben Cook spoke of another effort to fight crime in the community with the reinstatement of the K-9 program. The K-9 unit will be under the management and handling of Patrol Officer Stephen Foutz, a graduate of William Byrd High School, who has been with the department for three years.
The dog will primarily be used for drug detection, but also for other search and patrol duties. While Vinton has a relatively low crime rate, the majority of crimes in Vinton are drug-related in some shape or form.
One of the first steps has been leasing and equipping a new K-9 car. The vehicle is on order from the Sheehy Automotive Dealership in Richmond and will be built in the near future.
“The K-9 car has all the features of a standard patrol vehicle as far as the vehicle itself, lighting packages, consoles and equipment,” said Chief Cook. “The difference is that the car will be equipped with a K-9 style cage in lieu of a regular prisoner transport cage, a cooling system, window tinting to keep the car cooler, and a heat alarm that will alert the handler if the interior temperature gets to a certain level.”
Chief Cook and Officer Foutz are searching for a dog for the K-9 program. German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois are often the dogs of choice for police work. Officer Foutz will then spend eight weeks in training with his canine partner.
Chief Cook recently requested assistance from the Vinton business community through the Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce in funding the program which will cost between $9,000 and $12,000 to begin operations, and has received a very positive response.