PERU – Meet Fargo and Darro. They’re the newest K9 officers at the Peru Police Department. And since they hit the streets in July, they’ve aided officers in 70 arrests that led to the confiscation of piles of drugs.
The department this week released statistics related to the police dogs. According to the release, the K9s helped locate 82 grams of marijuana, 688 grams of heroin and 464 grams of meth, which includes a substantial drug raid in Indianapolis.
From July to December, Fargo and Darro were deployed 211 times during traffic stops, warrant services and tracking fleeing felons, which led to 13 apprehensions of criminal suspects.
Police Chief Mike Meeks said without the two K9 officers, many of those arrests would never have been made.
“I wholeheartedly believe the numbers would have been a fraction of that without our dogs,” he said.
The department has had police dogs since 1999, but the K9 program was disbanded in 2005 under then Police Chief Ray Raney.
When Meeks was appointed to the position by Mayor Gabe Greer in early 2016, he made a push to get the program back up and running.
The first dog was secured by a donation from Dr. Caesar DePaço and his wife Deanna Padovani-DePaço, who run New Jersey based Summit Nutritionals International ® and operate a K9 donation program.
The department was able to add a second police dog after local businesses and residents donated around $14,000 to purchase and train another K9.
“I think that just shows how the community feels about police dogs,” Meeks said. “If we make an arrest, I hope the people and businesses who donated have a feeling of ownership in that arrest.”
Both K9s received body armor thanks to donations from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. They both began patrolling with the department in July.
Now, with Darro and Fargo, the department has the largest K9 program in its history. Currently, the dogs work second and third shifts with officers Samantha Raber and Jeremy Brindle.
Meeks said that has given officers an upper hand in fighting the explosion of drug abuse in Miami County and the surrounding area.
“Without a police dog, we were seeing the worst of it,” he said. “We knew we were in desperate need of a K9 with the meth and heroin epidemic going on.”
Meeks said Fargo and Darro are an important part of the department not only for their drug-sniffing talents, but also for their public relations skills.
“People migrate to a dog,” he said. “They want to see it in action. When we take them to a school, for instance, they’re almost like a bridge between our law enforcement officers and our youth.”
With the addition of Darro and Fargo, Miami County now has six police dogs. Other agencies with K9s include the Miami County Sheriff’s Department, the Indiana State Police and conservation officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.