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National campaign brings bulletproof vests to Fort Lee police dogs

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

SHOUT OUT: Two Fort Lee police dogs are getting ballistic vests thanks to a nationwide fundraising campaign.

The “Occasions” campaign for Groupon Grassroots produced $335,000 in conjunction with the non-profit Vested Interest in K9s Inc. to buy the vests for 350 law enforcement dogs nationwide, Fort Lee Police Capt. Robert Zevits said.

The campaign requested a simple $10 tax-deductible donation “to purchase ballistic vests for our four-legged crime fighters, who put their lives on the line for the community and their partner,” Zevits said.

Vested Interest is providing the body armor in memory of Pittsburgh K9 Rocco, who died in the line of duty this past January. All of the vests bear his name.

The campaign raised $155,537 in just one week, immediately providing vests for 163 law enforcement dogs in 30 states, Zevits said.

Fort Lee police have two K9 teams.

There’s Greener and his partner, Officer Richard Hernandez, both of whom completed Patrol and Narcotics Detection School in 2008.

Greener has assisted other municipalities and the DEA with searches, leading to the seizures of hundreds of pounds of drugs, more than $2 million in counterfeit cash and the siezure of 30 or so vehicles.

Greener also has made six apprehensions, including two burglars, and is assigned to the Emergency Services Unit (ESU), which handles high-risk search warrants.

Ajax, meanwhile, is the department’s newest addition, having completed Narcotics Scent Detection School with his partner, Officer John Reuter, this year.

They’re currently attending Patrol School, Zevits said, after which Ajax will join Reuter in the ESU.

Within his first month on the road, Ajaz “has assisted with numerous narcotics investigations, as well as assisting with locating an electronically-operated compartment hidden within a motor vehicle,” the captain said.

“With this gift, the K9s who put their lives on the line every day to protect the community will have the same protection as their handlers and all police officers,” he said.

NOTE: Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) in East Taunton, MA, established in 2009, that has provided 1,125 bullet- and stab-protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies in 40 states. Each vest costs $950 and has a 5-year warranty.

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