LISBON - The Columbiana County Sheriff's Office has become the latest local law enforcement agency to get its own drug-detection dog.
"It's another tool in the tool box in our fight against drugs," said county Commissioner Mike Halleck after they voted Wednesday to provide $20,000 to the Sheriff Ray Stone.
Approximately $13,000 is to acquire the German-bred female German shepherd named Jesy (pronounced Jessie) through Shallow Creek Kennels of Sharpsville, Pa. The $13,000 also covers the six weeks of training for Jesy's handler, while the rest of the money is to outfit a sheriff's cruiser with a dog cage, purchase a cages for the office and for Young's house, and other related expenses.
Stone said Jesy will assist not only his department on drug cases but the county Drug Task Force and local police departments who lack their own K9 unit. Jesy will also be available for the periodic drug sweeps conducted at local high schools.
"I get calls darn near every week or two when school is in session," he said.
Stone said he would have obtained a drug dog sooner but lacked the money. The $20,000 being provided was made possible because of the $1.1 million in state casino tax revenue received by commissioners over the past year.
Lt. Allan Young has been assigned to be Jesy's handler and is scheduled to begin training at Shallow Creek in late October. Young and Jesy are expected to ready for duty by Dec. 1.
"She'll be a full-time deputy, with a badge and everything. I'm not sure if she'll have to pay union dues," Stone quipped.
Jesy's arrival could not come at a better time. "The drug task force is substantially busier than they've ever been since I've been here," said Stone, who became sheriff in 2008.
He attributed the increase in drug investigations to the additional manpower made possible after commissioners began offering to help pay for the costs of police departments that assign an officer to the DTF. The money for this also came from casino tax money. Stone said they have also forged a closer working relationship with the Youngstown office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
Lt. Young said Jesy is also trained to perform general scent searches which will allow her to be used in other types of investigations. When not busy with his other duties, which Young will continue to perform, he and Jesy will also be on patrol
"It's not like we're going to sit in the office and wait for calls to come in," Young said.
Drug dogs are effective for about six to seven years, and Young has agreed to remain on the job as long as his new partner. Stone is already looking ahead by raising money to eventually replace Jesy and to help cover her medical care, food and other expenses. Anyone wanting to donate can do so by writing a check out to the sheriff's office and mark it canine or K9.
"We're going to set up a fund through the sheriff office because I've already had people approach me about wanting to make donations." he said.
East Palestine veterinarian Dr. Brian Urmson has offered to provide basic services to Jesy for free. Urmson does the same for East Palestine's drug dog, Toney.
This brings to five the number of police dogs that will be in the county, but Stone said they need their own rather than relying on other police departments for the assistance of their K9 and handler.
"As the leading law enforcement agency in Columbiana County, I think it's high time we have one ourselves," he said.
Halleck agreed. "We very well may be the largest county county in Ohio without a drug dog ... so we're pleased to have this addition," he said.