Warren County seeks 2nd K9 Officer

Warren County is in the process of picking up a second K9 police officer.

The county commissioners signed off on an agreement with Shallow Creek Kennels of Sharpsville that will allow Sheriff Deputy Tom Kibbey to – this Friday – meet and select the next K9 that will serve throughout the county.

Sheriff Ken Klakamp told the commissioners that the effort has been a joint one including the District Attorney’s office and the county’s police chiefs.

He said there was discussion about whether there would be enough work for a second dog and whether it would be “beneficial to the county to have a second canine.”

Klakamp noted that it is “kind of unfair” for the county’s loan K9 officer, Nic and handler Scott Neiswonger with Conewango Township police, “to be on call 24/7 365” and detailed that there have been situations where a second K9 would be valuable.

“Deputy Kibbey has been chosen as the handler,” he said. “He has done a lot of work.”

He added that Chief County Detective Brian Zeybel has coordinated with the Community Foundation of Warren County.

“(The) Community Foundation put $30,000 into an account,” Klakamp added. “Their wishes were to have a county K9. They have agreed to pay for the K9.”

“We feel that it’s beneficial,” he said, noting that a second canine would also be of use at the Warren County Jail “to periodically run a K9 through the jail” as well as to the schools.

The proposal, he explained, would not utilize any tax money and he noted that veterinary care, food and graphics for the vehicle have been donated.

Kibbey told the commissioners that he has worked with Neiswonger throughout this process.

“I think it should self-fund itself,” he said. “Being on the road, there definitely is a need for a K9…. I’m local. (I) could help then out when needed.”

“There will be funds that can carry this program forward,” Klakamp said.

Zeybel said that there is funding from the Community Foundation of Warren County as well as funding from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s foundation in the works.

“The Community Foundation has been absolutely phenomenal in supporting this K9 program,” Zeybel said.

Klakamp noted the Sheriff’s Office has had K9s in the past and noted that the K9 program will receive 10 percent of funds generated from criminal seizures.

“(It) sounds like this will be no cost to the county,” Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said.

“That’s our intent,” Klakamp said.

Commissioner Cindy Morrison raised concerns about staff cost and insurance while Commissioner Jeff Eggleston proposed tabling the item to more thoroughly vet the initiative.

But there was a timeliness issue – Klakamp said Kibbey would be going to select the dog – a German Shepherd – this Friday.

Kibbey said his first day of training is June 24. He added that the training will run Monday-Friday for six weeks, ending on August 2.

He noted that the dog will have already completed training in its home European country.

“He’ll be more new-handler friendly,” Kibbey said.

He spoke about being able to partner with Neiswonger.

“We’ll be able to train together,” he said. “(It’s) nice having someone in the county who has gone through this. (I’m) kinda using that as my foundation to build off of.”

Klakamp said that the dog would assist not only in narcotics investigations but in search and rescues.

“That’s a big advantage for us,” he said.

The commissioners unanimously signed off the agreement.