MARTINS FERRY - The police department's newest officer was introduced to the public during a special press conference at the mayor's office Tuesday. Echo, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, has joined in the city's fight against drugs.
"Today is a great day for the citizens of Martins Ferry and the Ohio Valley, but it is a bad day for our local drug dealers," said Mayor Paul Riethmiller, who led the press conference with Police Chief John McFarland and Echo's handler and partner, Chad Kuhn.
Riethmiller credited council members for their support of the police department, and community members and businesses who raised funds for the purchase of the dog through a yearlong effort.
THE MARTINS Ferry Police Department unveiled its new K-9 officer during a Tuesday press
conference in the city
building. Pictured with Echo, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinios, are, from left, Officer Chad Kuhn, Echo's handler; Mayor Paul Riethmiller and Chief of Police John McFarland.
T-L Photo/BUBBA KAPRAL
Echo arrived at Martins Ferry by way of France and Germany, where he received training by France's anti-terrorism division. In the United States, he completed his four weeks of training at Storm Canine Training of Columbus. The normal training time runs about six weeks.
"We're looking forward to getting out there and doing some good things. The Martins Ferry Police Department is taking a big step in the right direction and I'm glad to be part of that," Kuhn said. He noted that Echo will be in continual training at Storm Canine.
The dual-purpose dog is suited to tasks ranging from locating drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin as well as pursuing fleeing suspects and finding lost children.
"We knew we had something special the first time we saw him," Kuhn said, noting Echo's quality, training and intelligence.
"I strongly believe he's probably the best in this area," he said. "He's a smart dog. He thinks first before he does anything."
He added that the city also has a mutual aid agreement with the surrounding communities.
"We're here for the entire area and it's all going to benefit the city of Martins Ferry," he said, noting that Echo will be on the job for 10 to 12 years. "In the K-9 field you get what you pay for. He wasn't cheap but he'll pay the city back. I'm looking for big things from him."
He added that backup handlers are being trained in the event of emergencies.
McFarland added that June 15 saw Kuhn and Echo's first day on duty assisting the highway patrol at a sobriety checkpoint on Ohio 7. Examinations resulted in several arrests for marijuana possession.
"It puts the fear in people," Riethmiller said, adding that Echo will be a valuable weapon in the fight against illegal drugs. "We want to clean up the city. This is a good way to start."
Kuhn and Echo will be a presence in the city. They will begin introducing themselves to the community. They will also schedule visits to the schools to examine lockers and cars.
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