WATE 6 On Your Side

Non-profit donates K9 body armor to LaFollette Police Department

Partners at police departments come in pairs, but sometimes one half of the pair isn’t human. A non-profit agency has stepped up to make sure four-legged partners in LaFollette stay safe with a donation of body armor.

For some law enforcement agents, furry friends many consider house pets are as helpful as the humans they usually work with. 

The goal of a K9 unit is to protect in ways officers might not be able to. 

“If you have that K9 on duty and allow him to apprehend the suspect, things are taken care of and it takes the threat away from the public,” said Matthew Forsyth, a detective at the LaFollette Police Department. 

Forsyth’s partner is Diesel, a well-trained K9, best at tracking and finding narcotics in ways a human officer can’t. 

“When we’re hunting a suspect who fled into the woods, it is a very good feeling having a dog out in front of me with a tremendous news that can give me the heads up that we’re about to come up on them,” said Forsyth. 

The LaFollette Police Department has two K9 teams: Diesel and Morris. Both received a safety surprise from a nonprofit, Vested Interest in K9s

The company’s website describes the goals of the nonprofit to “provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the country,” just like Diesel and Morris in LaFollette. 

The vests usually run $800 to $3,000, according to Forsyth. He has a background in K9 training, with more than two decades of experience working with local departments, New York State Police and training with the Naval special warfare. 

He says while the department can provide a lot, items like these are important and harder to come by because of the price. 

Vested Interest in K9s takes donations and then turns those donations into vests to keep K9 partners, like Diesel, safe. 

“While we know he’s here to protect us as officers, and to make our job easier, we still want to take him home every night,” said Forsyth. 

The vests are not worn all the time, Forsyth says. Instead, they’re worn when there is a “high threat situation.”