Established in 1985 with unanimous support and approval by Chief John Burns and the Town Board. Following a one-year trial, the K-9 program was authorized to continue as part of the Patrol Division. There were five German Shepard K-9s all trained and handled by Sgt. Rick Kemner. The five K9s were: K9-1 Askar (male), K9-2 Belinda (female), K9-3 Rio (male), K9-4 Hilde (female) and K9-5 Artus (male).
All of the East Greenbush Police K9s were trained and certified in: Tracking, General multi-purpose patrol functions and Narcotics detection.
The K-9 regularly assisted police agencies throughout the region. In addition to East Greenbush, Rensselaer Police and Schodack Police also had K-9s (which no longer exist today).
The K-9 program was disbanded in 2007 with the retirement of Sgt. Kemner.
In late 2020 and early 2021, Officer Josh Witko pushed for the reinstatement of the canine program and was able to give a presentation in front of the town board highlighting the need for the department to have a dual-purpose canine. After a successful presentation, Officer Josh Witko was granted permission to research fundraising and grant opportunities.
Come March 2021 and after a lot of fundraising, Officer Josh Witko was able to obtain enough money to reinstate the canine program and fully relieve the financial burden from the town. The community really supported this venture and Officer Josh Witko secured enough funds for the purchase of a dog, equipment, vehicle and training.
In April 2021 Officer Josh Witko traveled to Pennslyvania where he picked up his new partner. K9 Bear, named after the late Officer Edward L. Witko who was known as the "Dancing Bear". K9 Bear came from Shallow Creek Kennels and will be certified in Tracking, General multi-purpose patrol functions and Narcotics detection.
In July 2021, Officer Josh Witko and K9 Bear officially hit the streets and are assigned to the patrol division on the C-Line shift.
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