MANCHESTER – When an officer is down, the brotherhood of Blue comes together and that goes for an officer who is hurt in the line of duty or for one who is facing cancer.
It also extends beyond whether the officer is human or not. Officer Storm is a solid black, six-year-old German Shepherd. He is one of two members of the township’s K-9 Unit.
“Our entire department’s thoughts are with K-9 Storm, who underwent successful surgery this morning (March 10) to remove his left eye due to a cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, Storm is resting comfortable under the care of his partner, Patrolman Marc Micciulla, and testing showed that there are no signs of cancer elsewhere,” a message stated on the Police Department’s Facebook page.
Storm is expected to be back to duty in a few weeks.
“We would like to thank Dr. Lisa Schoor and the staff from Whiting Veterinary Clinic LLC, and Ophthalmologist Dr. Michael Ringle, Surgeon Dr. Katherine Salmeri, and the staff from Red Bank Animal Hospital for providing Storm with excellent care. We’re also continually grateful for the support our K-9 Unit receives from our community, and we look forward to Storm’s return,” the message stated.
Police Chief Lisa Parker commended Dr. Schoor saying, “She helps us out greatly.”
“We had a K-9 unit back in the day, around 22 years ago. We brought it back in 2015,” K-9 Unit officer/Patrolman Steve Wendruff said during a demonstration of the K-9 Unit held earlier this year in Toms River.
The reason the unit was reactivated was that an increase in narcotics responses was noted around 2014 according to Chief Parker.
Storm was the department’s first four-legged addition to the force since the unit’s reactivation. He came from the Netherlands and will soon be turning seven years old.
Lynk joined the department soon after and is from Hungry. Both dogs were trained at Shelly’s School for Dogs/Green Leaf Pet Resort, Millstone Township.
Micciulla said the dogs paid for themselves in the first year through the number of items that were confiscated during arrests.
“We seized 40 cars, and money-wise the actual cash seized was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the patrolman said.
Law enforcement agencies can garner a designated amount from the value of confiscated vehicles and items from arrests through state police regulations.
Chief Parker noted that the department is actually seeking to acquire two new K-9-unit dogs. “That is our long-term goal but we are waiting until November to see what happens with the marijuana referendum question that will be on the ballot.”
The chief explained that depending on how that vote goes to legalizing marijuana, it would impact the training of new K-9 officers as well as how Storm and Lynk’s duties will be performed.
“We wouldn’t pursue this now as 50% of what our dogs’ work might not be the same. The unit has become a very important part of our department. They are not bred to be a family pet. We pay $6,000-$9,000 for the dogs and that does not include their training, our officers’ training, food, and lodging for them when our officers are on vacation,” Chief Parker said.
Parker previously said the K-9 officers are used “on side-to-side evenings but they sometimes are called in for some day shift work.” She noted that with the county, state and nation’s current opioid crisis the department has been working to bring drug use awareness to the school district.
Chief Parker said a few months ago that the department was looking at acquiring two new K-9-unit dogs. “That is our long-term goal but we are waiting until November to see what happens with the marijuana referendum question that will be on the ballot.”
Micciulla said that Storm lives with him and his family when not on duty.