Bear, the North Royalton Police K-9 dog, has been retired. The retirement took place on June 8.
North Royalton Police Chief, Keith Tarase, said that the decision was made between himself and Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz. “For the amount of time we were using him, it just didn’t make sense,” said Antoskiewicz. He added that it was a “good situation that the officer that had him, will take him.”
Bear was the second K-9 dog at the North Royalton Police Department. The previous K-9 program, with Buster the dog, concluded in 2000 when Buster retired. The K-9 program was re-instituted in 2019 after funding was received through the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which provided a $12,800 grant that funded the cost of the dog, kennels and a bulletproof vest for the dog. The City received a 10-week K-9 training by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, free of charge. The dog also received free health care. Tarase said that the City paid the officer who handled Bear the equivalent to a half-hour daily, per labor standard requirements. That was given in paid time off for the officer who received a kennel care day at a rate of one day off per each ten days.
Tarase said that since the inception of this K-9 program, which began in February 2019, the dog had just not been utilized enough to make it feasible. “As the Chief of Police, it is my responsibility to evaluate everything within the department, including the K-9 program,” said Tarase. “I felt that Patrol/Drug K-9 Program was not effective for the North Royalton Police Department, and I made the decision to end it earlier than expected. I wish Bear a long and happy retirement with his family.” He said that the police have been able to detect drug usage without using the dog. According to state laws, officers cannot legally search a vehicle or person without probable cause, so deploying a K-9 was not necessary. When a vehicle is stopped and the officer can detect the odor of marijuana, that gives them probable cause.
According to a deployment summary, from June 23, 2019 to May 23, 2023, Bear was deployed twenty-nine times for detection in thirty-three search areas. There were thirty-one alerts/indications and thirty seizure incidents. There were also five deployments on patrol and one person found. Tarase said that of the deployments, ten were used outside of the City.
By GLORIA PLEVA KACIK