K-9 Officer Boomer of the Whitewater Police Department receives ballistic vest through grant

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K-9 Officer Boomer of the Whitewater Police Department receives ballistic vest through grant

K-9 Officer Boomer wearing the ballistic vest granted to the Whitewater PD.

K-9 Officer Boomer wearing the ballistic vest granted to the Whitewater PD.

K-9 Officer Boomer wearing the ballistic vest granted to the Whitewater PD.

K-9 Officer Boomer wearing the ballistic vest granted to the Whitewater PD.

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March 4, 2015

By Amber Levenhagen

With the help of a Groupon campaign that raised over $335,000, Whitewater Police’s Boomer received a ballistic vest to aid in his K-9 officer duties in January.

The Groupon Grassroots campaign worked with Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., a non-profit organization and charity dedicated to outfit police K-9’s with bullet and stab protective vests.

Officer Joe Matteson, head of the K-9 department, works directly with Boomer.

“I am very thankful we were able to get a ballistic vest for Boomer,” Mattenson said. “It certainly takes a little time to get him used to wearing it, but he’s doing well.”

The campaign was hosted in memory of the Pittsburg Police Department’s K-9 named Rocco, who passed in the line of duty in January of 2014.

To honor him, “In Memory of K-9 Rocco, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police” will be embroidered on all of the donated vests.

The online campaign raised enough money to provide over 350 K-9’s nationwide with bulletproof and stab resistant vests, one of them being Boomer.

The $1,010 purchased the first vest, and then each additional $1,006 purchased a vest for another dog, according to the Groupon campaign page,

Boomer has been with the Whitewater Police Department since May of 2014, and has been adapting well to the change in attire.

A ballistic vest is a piece of personal armor that protects against unwarranted attacks and although Boomer isn’t trained in apprehension, the vest will protect him from potential dangers while on the job.

“Boomer’s safety is a very high priority and we need to ensure we are taking reasonable steps to protect him,” Matteson said. “The ballistic vest is a piece of equipment that we do not use on a daily basis, but it is a very important option to have.”

The three-year-old black Labrador retriever works with Matteson and is trained to alert to the odor of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, meth or any derivative of those.

Boomer also helps search for people by assisting in locating lost children. He also visits the Whitewater community to teach about the negative aspects of drugs.

“I like having the ability to put the vest on him to protect him when in vulnerable positions, it’s a lot nicer to know that if I’m going to leave him in the squad car, he can be protected,” Matteson said.

In his first year of service with the Whitewater Police Department, Boomer already has been involved with several drug violation arrests.

The most common situations for Boomer to handle are exterior sniffs of vehicles at traffic stops. Even though he’s K-9 in nature, he’s professional while at work, according to Matteson.

“I have seen Boomer sniff past cookies, fast food and other things without any issues,” Matteson said about working regularly with Boomer.

The campaign ran in 2014 from Feb. 15 to March 5 and although the campaign is over, Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc. is still accepting donations through their website.

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