ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Some of Rockford’s four-legged officers got new uniforms, but it is not all for looks.
Police said that while the new uniform looks good, it is really more about the protection of the K9s.
“These dogs deploy with us every day on some very dangerous situations, said Officer Jesse Geiken, K9 handler at the Rockford Police Department. “Sully is my best friend, and keeping him safe is the utmost importance, both myself and the organization.”
Sully is from Germany and is 8 years old. He has been working alongside Geiken for seven years.
“So, these vests are made to be bullet proof, stab resistant, and then they also have some built in padding on the under belly,” Geiken said. “Keep the dog safe when they have to do things like jump over fences or crawl through crawl spaces.”
“Friends of Rockford Police K9 Unit” were able to get custom body armor for all six RPD K9s. They will protect the K9s through any situation while on duty.
“Nationwide, we lost almost 30 dogs last year from gunfire and stabbings, so we have been super fortunate here that we never had a dog hurt or killed in the line of duty in that manner,” Geiken said.
RPD said that they are always looking ahead and taking precautions to protect the community and the ones that help keep it safe.
“So, as police officers we’re always required to wear our bullet proof vest when we are out in the street for the same reason we want to put a bullet proof vest on Sully, to keep him safe the same way that we want to stay safe, and the difference between dogs and human police officers is that we’ll send our K9s in somewhere before we’ll go in there, so we want them to have that extra level of protection as well,” Geiken said.
Geiken said that vests were only put on K9s for specific situations in the past and then taken off. The new vest can be worn for the entire shift. RPD said that allows the K9s to be ready and protected at all times.
“Yeah, he is with me every day,” Geiken said. “I spend more time with him than I do anybody else, my family included, and I love knowing that he is protected now. Otherwise, he might not have been.”
The K9s started wearing the vests last month.