A pursuit of a man committing a traffic violation started shortly after 9pm on Tuesday, February 25 in Parma. The 41 year-old Cleveland man fled when officers attempted to pull him over, and what started out as a traffic violation turned into a much more serious crime. After fleeing into Cleveland, he pulled over in a Burger King parking lot and jumped out of the car while still moving. Parma K-9 officers on the scene then released K-9 Felix and K-9 Tyson to help apprehend the man.
When the dogs caught up to the suspect, they tried to subdue him, and he punched both K-9's multiple times in their heads. The police were able to apprehend him, and he was taken to Metro Hospital after sustaining several bites to his upper body and right thigh. He is now in custody at the Parma Jail on charges of fleeing from officers and assaulting the K-9 unit dogs. He was also found to be in possession of a cocaine-like substance, and the incident is under investigation with anticipated criminal charges pending consultation with prosecutors.
According to Sgt. Kevin Riley's e-mail news release, "It does not appear that either K-9 was injured due to being punched in the head." The assaults to the K-9's are taken very seriously, as they are a valuable member of the Parma Police force, members of the family, and very important resources and investments for the force. Sgt. Riley told me in an e-mail in response to questions about the assaults, "They will risk their lives without the slightest hesitation to save the life of their handler or another officer."
This isn't just because of their training, either. It is in dogs' natures to save those who care for them when they are in danger, and the bond between a K-9 officer and his/her dog is absolutely one of the closest bonds there are. These dogs put their lives on the line every time they are out with their officers, and they help apprehend criminals like the Cleveland man fleeing officers and those who are sometimes even more dangerous.
K-9 Felix and K-9 Tyson were sworn in three years ago in September of 2011, according to the press release on former Parma mayor Dean DePiero's website in the "press" section about Parma. In this press release, DePiero recognized the dogs' value to the police force: “The dogs can help our police officers in numerous situations...Their unique talents can help lead investigators to the source of illegal activity and ultimately the arrest of law breakers.” DePiero's press release also emphasizes the amount of training the dogs and their officers must go through before being able to be put on duty. "The police officer/K9 handlers will undergo a six week training program with their four legged partners who must receive certification by the State of Ohio before beginning patrol work."
Luckily, K-9 Felix and K-9 Tyson came out of this altercation without any injuries, especially with blows to the head being so very dangerous. This story is just one example of the good these dogs do for both the police force and the community, and they (along with the rest of the force, of course) train so hard and dedicate so much selfless time to getting criminals off the street and helping people every single day.