K-9 Kira becomes Mesa's newest defender of public safety - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

K-9 Kira becomes Mesa's newest defender of public safety

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 3:52 pm | Updated: 9:26 pm, Wed Nov 7, 2012.

Mesa Police Department’s newest member is trained to find drugs and narcotics, but when she was introduced this week, she found her way into a few hearts.

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation provided more than $10,000 to Mesa Police to purchase Kira, a 2-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Malinois who joined the K-9 unit in July. On Tuesday, Wendy and Jerry Griffin, owners of the Firehouse Subs at 1829 N. Power Road that helped collect the funds, hosted a dedication ceremony to officially introduce Kira to the community.

After arriving from Holland this summer, Kira spent six weeks undergoing additional training to be certified, her handler, Officer Bryan Cochran, said in a taped interview after the event. She is trained for drug and narcotics detection. Cochran also has a patrol dog, Max.

With Kira, the police department now has a dozen K-9 officers. The dogs specialize in different areas, from narcotics, drug and bomb detection to patrol work and cadaver searches, Mesa Det. Steve Berry said.

“It’s huge for the department and the officers,” he said, noting Kira’s skill to find drugs and narcotics. “Besides taking the drugs off the street, stopping those dealers and getting them off the street stops the flow.”

The Griffins’ restaurant is a popular stop for many Mesa firefighters and police officers, Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead said during the ceremony.

“It’s unique in any community that you have a relationship to this magnitude that the gift you’ve given, not only is it a big gift, but it shows the solidarity between the police and fire departments, the public safety people here in Mesa, and the business community,” he said. “The mayor (Scott Smith) talks a lot about building a better Mesa. Well, this is about building a safer Mesa and we are able to do that with these partnerships. So on behalf of the mayor, thank you so much.”

Robin Peters, executive director of the Florida-based Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, said, “It’s the best part of our job to give back.”

The foundation was created in 2005 and has since given away a few million dollars worth of equipment and training to fire and police departments across the country. Peters said 50 percent of the foundation’s funds are raised through donations collected at local restaurants from patrons.

During the ceremony Tuesday, Peters noted the public safety effort taking place in the northeast because of Hurricane Sandy.

“It’s humbling, but it’s also a source of pride that our foundation believes in giving back to first responders and our brand makes it a critical part of doing business … Thank you to you for dedicating your lives to protecting ours,” she said.

Firehouse Subs was started by brothers, and former fire fighters, Chris and Robin Sorensen, in 1994.

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