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updated: 4/6/2011 1:47 PM

Antioch police get K-9 unit

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Justice is coming to Antioch.

Justice, a new K-9 unit for the Antioch Police Department, has been purchased, trained and is ready to go in the department's war against drugs, Police Chief Craig Somerville said.

The new dog and his handler are expected to be on duty sometime next week.

Somerville said the move to get a K-9 unit began in January when Mayor Larry Hanson and Trustee Dennis Crosby were invited as civilian observers on two separate drug investigations.

During the investigations, Somerville said, officers were forced to wait for a K-9 dog for drug sniffing purposes to be brought in from a nearby police department to help in the investigation.

The long wait compromised the safety of the officers involved, he said.

"Subsequently, Trustee Crosby said during a board meeting that we needed a K-9 unit," Somerville said. "The word got out and a flood of positive responses followed."

One of those calls was from Round Lake Area Park District Police Officer Terry Kaminsky, who called to say the D.A.S. Charitable Fund -- a Libertyville charity that helps buy K-9 units for area police departments -- could help with the purchase of a police dog, Somerville said.

"They agreed to fund the complete purchase and training of the dog, so we contacted TOPS in Grayslake to see if one was available," he said.

Enter Justice, a 3-year-old German shepard fully certified in drug detection, search and cadaver location. He had originally been trained for a different police force that had ended its K-9 unit.

Antioch Police Officer Chuck Smith, an eight-year veteran, was given the opportunity to train with Justice, Somerville said.

"Justice wasn't the dog's first name, but we wanted to rename him for our force," Somerville said. "So, we ran a 'Name the K-9' contest through our fifth grade DARE classes last week and 10 students chose the name Justice. So, we made that name official."

In addition, SquadWorks of Round Lake Park donated 60 hours of labor and an undisclosed amount of equipment to update an old K-9 squad car Antioch police had used in past years, Somerville said.

The update included new strobe lighting, decals, a rifle rack and paint job. In addition, the village of Hainesville donated a $900 light bar, Somerville said.

"These selfless acts are an example of what communities facing tough times can do when they work together," he said. "We thank all who stepped up and assisted us with this."