WILDWOOD – A man’s best friend is a criminal’s worst enemy and members of the Wildwood Police Department hope to raise sufficient funding to bring a highly-trained K-9 to the department to help patrol city streets.
“We’ve been applying for grants,” said Wildwood Police Department Chief Robert Regalbuto, “and have been fairly successful, however these animals are costly.” According to the chief, a K-9 can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000.
Regalbuto said in addition to grants, the department has received donations to help offset the cost but additional funding is needed in order to put a K-9 on the department’s roster of officers. To that end, the department is selling special WPD K-9 T-shirts.
Once purchased, the dog will be used to enhance the way policing is done in the city. Regalbuto said the department has made very successful policing changes over the past two years with increased patrols and increased walking beats; however the inclusion of a K-9 officer will greatly enhance officers’ ability to fight crime and drug-related activities.
“The animal we receive will be trained as a dual purpose K-9,” Regalbuto explained. “It will not only be trained to patrol, it will also be trained to detect narcotics.”
According to Regalbuto, the city’s police department has not had a K-9 in more than three decades.
After a 22-week training program at the Atlantic County “John Sonny Burke” K-9 Academy, the new K-9 along with its human police partner will begin to patrol Wildwood’s streets and boardwalk. Regalbuto said he hopes the dog can begin its training at the academy at the end of March.
“Once the animal is received, it will be presented at a Board of Commissioners’ meeting where those who have donated to the purchase will be invited to attend,” said the chief.
“Our police department is second to none,” said Commissioner for Public Safety Tony Leonetti. “The addition of a K-9 will enhance the department’s effectiveness in ensuring Wildwood remains a safe place to live and to visit.
Anyone interested in helping to donate to bring a police dog to Wildwood may contact the Wildwood Police Department at 609-522-0222. Those wishing to purchase a $20 T-shirt may contact the department or visit its Facebook page at City of Wildwood Police Department.