K-9 deputy to finish out police career

LISBON –Jesy is preparing to retire next year after seven years as the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office’s first K-9 deputy.

Sheriff Ray Stone met this week with county commissioners to begin the process of replacing Jesy, who will retire next May with her handler, Lt. Allan Young. Stone said seven years is generally the maximum work life of a police dog, and Jesy will reach that in 2020.

Commissioners on Wednesday gave Stone permission to begin preparing to acquire Jesy’s replacement and get her and the next handler signed up for a training class this fall. As before, the new K-9 unit will be acquired through Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, Pa. The cost will be $14,500, which includes six weeks of training for the new dog and its handler, who has yet to be chosen.

Stone said he has been pleased with Jesy’s performance but her service was somewhat limited due to his department continually being understaffed. This required Young to fill in for other deputies and perform everyday duties, such as transporting inmates to and from jail appearances. When Young was occupied doing other things, and he and Jesy could not be deployed more.

In other action, Commission Chairman Mike Halleck said the board intends to help the sheriff’s purchasing new vehicles, noting they have fallen behind on its vehicle replacement program begun years ago. He said they currently have six sheriff’s vehicles approaching 200,000 miles and six others with more than 100,000 miles.

“We’re (commissioners) in pretty good shape, so I think we can help you with that,” Halleck told Stone.

Stone said there are several reasons they have fallen behind on the replacement schedule. First, the cost of vehicles have doubled in the 10 years he has been sheriff, and one of the factors for that is SUVs are now the preferred vehicle instead of sedans.

The sheriff’s office and police departments as well have been transitioning to Ford Interceptors, the police version of a Ford Explorer, although the Stone said they have several Chevrolet Tahoes as well. The Interceptor, with the light bar and other law enforcement accessories, cost about $40,000 or so.

The other problem is fees generated by sheriff’s sales of foreclosed properties were used to purchase new vehicles, but foreclosure have declined significantly in recent years, and the state also decreased the amount that can go to sheriff’s offices.

Stone prefers the Interceptor because it sits higher, making it easier to travel over county backroads, has more room to transport prisoners, and comes with all-wheel drive that can be used when needed.

“It’s just a better all-round vehicle,” he said.