PIKEVILLE, Ky. – It is no secret budget cuts are being made all across the board in Pike County.
One of the first “victims” of the budget cuts was Copper, a three and a half year old German Shepard used by the Pike County Detention Center to combat not only the drug problem which occurs at the jail, but throughout the county and in some cases even the schools.
Copper was obtained by Jailer Freddie Lewis shortly after he took office in 2015.
Since the budget cuts Jailer Freddie Lewis, Lieutenant Dee Hampton, Copper’s handler and several other employees at the detention center have stepped up and picked up the cost for Copper.
“He is too valuable to loose, we would rather pitch in and pay for him out of pocket as to not have him.” Says Lewis.
Together they chip in to pay for Copper’s the special type of dog food he needs, monthly flea and tick medicine, vet bills, training for the dog and the handler, and even his toys. Faith Lewis of Southern Touch Grooming provides free services to keep Cooper looking his best.
Copper has definitely deterred the drug problem at the jail according to Lewis, “we have been able to obtain around 100 indictments, just with Copper’s help.”
He is on duty 24/7, the inmates never know when he will be out and coming through the jail. He could be there at 3 a.m. “One of our goals here at the jail is to keep it clean and free of drugs.”
The Pike County Detention Center is not the only organization benefiting from Copper’s training. The Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Kentucky State Police, Pikeville City Police and Jenkins City Police are just a few organizations that have called on Copper’s abilities to help in anything from detecting drugs in a vehicle at a road check and helping with finding narcotics to tracking lost people, in cases of AMBER alerts or GOLDEN alerts.
It is apparent Copper is very beneficial to law enforcement in so many aspects, but Copper has an another important job, one that is outside of law enforcement, that is in education.
Copper is used throughout elementary, middle and high schools in Pike County to educate students on the dangers of drugs, substance abuse, and the most common types of drugs. Often students even get the opportunity to see Copper in action, training packs are used to show students how Copper can detect hidden drugs.
Lt. Hampton says “Copper leaves a big impression on these students.” Not long ago a lady approached me and was telling me about her child coming home from school and telling her all about Copper’s visit that day, she thanked me for taking the time to bring Copper and expressed how grateful she was we had this program.
The cost for keeping Copper is around $125 per month, if no medical needs arise.
Even though they don’t ask for donation for Copper, there is an account set up at BB&T jfor the Pike County Detention Center K9. If anyone would like to make a donation you can contact Bryan Ferrell, Purchasing Director at 606-432-6291.
Kendra Mahon is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be reached at [email protected] or 304-235-4242 ext. 2278.