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Local News

Joliet students to donate to police K-9 unit

Officer Peter Van Gessel with his canine partner, Biaky, on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Joliet, Ill. Van Gessel was recently allowed to adopt Biaky after the dog was retired from city service.
Officer Peter Van Gessel with his canine partner, Biaky, on Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, in Joliet, Ill. Van Gessel was recently allowed to adopt Biaky after the dog was retired from city service.

JOLIET – Eighth-graders at Gompers Junior High School plan to donate more than $657 to Joliet police to further support their K-9 unit.

The funds will go toward purchasing WatchDog, an apparatus that is put on the police dog to warn the police through a smartphone app if the car where the dog is waiting for them gets too hot. 

“[The police] were telling us this app saves a lot of canines,” said Rebecca Kazecki, who along with Heather Poch teaches eighth-grade language arts at Gompers.

The students raised money as part of a community service project that ties into the school’s Guidelines for Success program and theme of Honesty, Effort, Accountability, Respect and Tolerance. 

Kazecki said the students researched different types of community service projects before settling on donating a bulletproof vest to Joliet police.

Gompers Principal Constance Russell put the class in contact with the police, who said they had enough bulletproof vests but had a need for the WatchDog app. 

The class did fundraisers throughout this school year, such as staff luncheons, a bake sale, a Zumba party and selling suckers during lunchtime. Students also sold cans of Crush soda on Valentine’s Day to their crushes. 

Joliet Police Officer Robert “Bert” Badertscher also visited the students with the police dog, which motivated them during their fundraising efforts, Kazecki said.

The police’s K-9 unit was created in 1980 and is certified annually through the North American Police Work Dog Association in obedience, narcotic search, tracking, article and evidence search, aggression and area search. 

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