Rep. Bizzarro secures grant for K-9 program for LECOM Police

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To help law enforcement in Erie tackle the wide array of possible threats they can face, State Representative Ryan Bizzarro has secured a $50,000 grant to launch a K-9 program for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (LECOM) Police and Security Department. 

“Protecting all the people and facilities from possible threats at a place like LECOM is a big job,” Rep. Bizzarro said. “Adding a police dog to help deal with explosives detection or other searches will go a long way to helping those officers keep us safe.” 

The LECOM K-9 program would allow officers to conduct searches of suspicious items or vehicles during a bomb threat scenario or help search for missing or wanted persons. The scent-detection ability of the dog could be expanded in the future to include detecting COVID-19.

This shared community resource will enhance Erie County’s emergency and terror threat responsiveness. Police departments from surrounding communities can request help if they found themselves in a situation that a K-9 would be needed. 

Fellow State Representatives Bob Merski and Pat Harkins applauded Bizzarro’s efforts.

“Like other campuses that host year-round speaking events and community activities, LECOM will benefit greatly from the added security of a K-9 unit,” Merski said. “Police dogs do an incredible job of rooting out suspicious packages containing weapons or explosives, which is important as larger gatherings resume.

“The campus and the entire surrounding community are going to be safer thanks to the new addition to the force.”

Harkins added: “The K-9 unit is a great addition to LECOM’s security because it adds an important layer of protection for students and staff and enhances peace of mind for everyone – including the officers responsible for campus safety. It’s great to know that the campus is joining so many others across the country that have added police dogs to their security arsenal.”

The $50,000 state grant only covers part of the total cost of the program. The startup cost for the program is approximately $80,000, with LECOM funding the remainder. 

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