New police K9 vehicle unveiled

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The Cranston Police Department last week rolled out a new vehicle for its K9 Unit.

Mayor Allan Fung, Chief of Police Col. Michael Winquist, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, and police personnel were on hand on Oct. 12 for a press conference at the department’s Training Academy. The $49,000 vehicle is being funded largely through a $31,000 grant sponsored by the speaker, with the remaining cost covered by the city.

The vehicle, a 2016 Ford Expedition, will be driven by Officer Shane O’Donnell and his partner, Blesk. The vehicle holds a climate-controlled kennel that will automatically activate a cooling mechanism when the temperature rises to an uncomfortable degree for the dogs.

“This K9 vehicle includes state-of-the-art technology and replaces an outdated Ford Crown Victoria that had been retrofitted with a kennel and had logged in an excess of 101,00 miles,” Winquist said.

Officers will also have a device on their belts that will alert them when the temperature in the car is too hot.

“This is critical, as many police K9s across the U.S. have died because of extreme temperature in the back of police vehicles,” Winquist said. “The value of the equipment, including the K9 itself, far exceeded the value of the vehicle they were traveling in.”

The officers will also be able to automatically open the rear door of the vehicle to release the K9s if their assistance is needed, simply by pressing a button on their belts.

“When I took the reins of the Cranston Police Department, I told our officers that our goal would be to be the leader in everything we do. Our K9 unit has met that challenge within our department,” Winquist said. “They have been called upon by not only our own officers within the department, but by neighboring police departments, seizing narcotics, illegal proceeds, as well as two firearms.”

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