Police Department Prepares For K-9 Unit’s Return

The Remembering Brian Kanterman Foundation donated funds for K9 Drago almost two years ago to the Ocean County Sheriff's Department. (Photo courtesy Remembering Brian Kanterman Foundation)

  JACKSON – The township has more than 100 police officers but it will soon have some four-legged ones as well.

  In 2022, Mayor Michael Reina authorized the reformation of a police K-9 unit, and worked with Business Administrator Terence Wall, the Finance Office and the Township Council to designate funding for it.

  “It is one of the passions that I have had was to re-establish the K-9 Unit so three or four years ago we had started to look at the feasibility. When everything started to jive and we were starting to build the department we were able to make it a reality,” Mayor Reina said.

  “This is the first in what I believe will be a donation of a dog. We had a couple of agencies that reached out to us. This one is just an amazing one and we are very grateful for them. The township is excited,” the mayor added.

  Police Chief Matthew Kunz told The Jackson Times that, “through a year of diligence, research and planning, we are now close to this goal. Purpose-built vehicles are on order, kennels and equipment are on order, and training is being arranged for next spring.”

The Remembering Brian Kanterman Foundation donated funds for K9 Drago almost two years ago to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department. (Photo courtesy Remembering Brian Kanterman Foundation)

  “At this time, we are also in the process of preparing to select police dogs. The Remembering Brian Kanterman Foundation has come forward and made several donations which will not only help us to acquire a police dog, but also to care for it.”

  Kanterman Foundation President Stan Kanterman joined his wife and Foundation treasurer Tina Kanterman along with Foundation volunteer Toni Tedesco in a recent donation presentation at the Jackson Police Department.

  The Foundation is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support communities by raising funds for those who serve, have served, and will serve the community.

  Some of the organization’s goals include purchasing police dogs for agencies that recently lost a dog in the line of duty, providing service dogs for veterans in need, partnering with local shelters to provide emotional support animals to veterans and first responders and paying the costs to train individuals who wish to be a police officer, firefighter or EMT.

  Chief Kunz said, “we are hopeful to acquire police dogs in or about March of 2024, with the goal of training in April 2024. Three police officers have been selected for this program, Police Officer Phil Minissale, Police Officer Matt Jamison and Police Officer Nick Kokich.”

  “Officer Kokich will likely be the handler for the police K-9 acquired through the generosity of the Kanterman Foundation,” the chief added.

  Stanley A. Kanterman, the president of the Foundation, told The Jackson Times about the organization and the person it was named after. “Brian was Tina and my son and he was a loving and caring young man. At 13, Brian lost one of his friends in a fire because the local volunteer fire company could not get to the fire in time to save him.”

  “He wanted to be a fireman and walked into the local fire department and learned he needed to be 18 to join. He also learned he could be 16 to become an EMT. He did and rose to the rank of captain,” Kanterman added. He noted that Brian later became a nationally certified firefighter and then wanted to become a police officer.

Brian Kanterman, the late police officer, loved animals. (Photo courtesy Remembering Brian Kanterman Foundation)

  “His journey led him to Virginia. As a deputy sheriff, Brian gave everyone the same respect he demanded. Brian was moving towards being a K9 Officer, but while chasing a suspect, Brian had to jump a fence and he hit a protruding rock and broke his toes in both feet which required surgery. Brian transferred to the jails while he healed and on December 25, 2018, we lost him in the line of duty,” his father added.

  Kanterman said “Brian had an adverse reaction to an over-the-counter medication which caused an unknown heart defect to stop his heart. Since the foundation started, which is run by volunteers, we have donated two PTSD K9s to veterans, three K9s (Allentown Police Department – Romkee, Ocean County Sheriff – Drago, and the new one to Jackson Police Department). We have also trained and paid for equipment to multiple volunteer fire departments and EMT Squads.”

(from left) Officers Phil Minissale, Matt Jamison and Nick Kokich celebrate the donation with Toni Tedesco, Tina and Stan Kanterman of the Remembering Brian Kanterman Foundation, Captains Mary Nelson and George Vidalis, and Chief Matthew D. Kunz. (Photo courtesy Jackson Police)

  “Tina is a bulldog when it comes to getting donations for our events. She had a prior connection with Captain Nelson of the Jackson PD and helped us make the connection for the donation,” Stan Kanterman said.

  The Foundation holds an annual fundraiser at the Addison Park in Keyport and works to get corporate donations. For further information visit rememberingbriank.com.