By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
Samber, a Killeen Police Department K-9, sported the new duds Wednesday that he and three other KPD K-9s will wear not just for style, but to protect their lives.
The Fun-Tier Kennel Club of Greater Killeen recently donated the bulletproof vests to the police department for its crime-fighting canine trio.
"It was a very generous donation," said Lt. Michael Click, of the Killeen Police Department.
The protective vests cost about $800 per dog, he added.
"We were told these dogs needed protection, so we made a donation," said Linda Stanley, president of the Fun-Tier Kennel Club.
At least one of the patrol dogs is on the streets 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Click said.
"They are a valuable part of the department. The use of the dogs is critical," Click said. "One of the reasons we use canines is to prevent the risk to officers."
Samber and the other patrol dogs often search buildings and cars, track suspects and search open fields for evidence.
"Samber has located people inside buildings," said James Bradem, Samber's handler. "We didn't know if those people were carrying weapons."
Samber has helped the police department with two arrests by locating people in buildings that had been burglarized.
Bradem said he appreciates the donations made to protect his canine partner.
"It makes it easier for me to put him into a harmful situation," Bradem said. "Although he is a law enforcement tool, he is also my friend."
Samber spends all his time with Bradem. Bradem trains, feeds and houses Samber when they are off duty.
During the news conference, Samber performed a car search to show the functionality of the protective vest. The canine investigator sniffed at and around the tires of a Dodge Intrepid. His movements did not appear to be restricted by the vest as he jumped
on the door of the car and crawled in and out of the front and back seats of the vehicle.
The dogs will not wear the protective vests every day, but they will when they are entering a possibly violent situation, such as a building search, said Sgt. Scott Meads, a member of the police department's Special Operations team.
"It is a great addition," Meads said. "Anything we can do to protect them is great. They are a valuable asset and we want to keep them on board as long as possible."
Fun-Tier Kennel Club representatives say they respect the dogs for their role in fighting crime in Killeen. "We consider these dogs to be a very valuable part of the community," Stanley said.
The club had no problem committing the money to fund the vests.
"It was unanimous that we help these dogs," Stanley said. "There was no hesitation to purchase these vests."
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7554.