Tomahawk Main Street donates over $1,000 to TPD’s K9 Fund
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor
TOMAHAWK – The Tomahawk Police Department accepted a check for $1,131.00 from Tomahawk Main Street at Riverview Health Services on Wednesday, Sept. 25. The funds will be put towards the department’s K9 Unit.
The department, along with Hank and Patty Tholl, owners of Rodeo Saloon in Tomahawk, raffled off a wood carving of an “Easy Rider Dude” during last month’s Fall Ride, with all of the funds raised going to the K9 Unit. The statue was won by Ron Basler, of Hazelhurst, with ticket number 186.
“We were glad to have Hank and Patty Tholl take the lead on such an important cause,” said Tomahawk Main Street Executive Director Aimee Dickrell. “It shows that our downtown group supports our community, which is something we pride ourselves on.”
Police Chief Al Elvins noted K9’s are usually only used for six to eight years before they need to be retired. “They’re working dogs,” he said. “Their life is shorter than our life.”
Elvins stated the cost for the department to eventually replace the department’s current K9 Officer Vali, including equipment, will come in around $50,000. Those funds will come solely from donations from individuals, along with local businesses and organizations.
“Our K9 unit, with the exception of the officer’s salary and gas, has never cost the taxpayers a dime,” Elvins said.
Elvins explained the importance of the K9 unit to both the department and the community. “It’s been a great program since we’ve had it. When you look at drug arrests versus property crimes, there’s a direct correlation. The more drug arrests you make, the less property crimes you have,” he stated.
After joining the Tomahawk Police Department in 2012, Elvins noticed there was a drug problem in Tomahawk, so he approached the mayor and city council about raising money for a K9 Unit. In 2013, the funds were collected, and K9 Officer Vali, who was two years old at the time, was sworn in that May.
The department is always looking for grants and funding opportunities, not just for the K9 Unit, but throughout the department, Elvins said. He noted that over the last seven years, the department has received about $300,000 in grants and donations.
“That’s the only way you can sustain a small department,” he said. “With the help of the community.”
Although the K9 Unit helps officers with detecting drugs, Elvins notes the unit serves the community in other ways as well. “Not only is the dog looking for drugs, it also tracks. If we have a child that wanders off, or if we have an adult that wanders off from a nursing facility, we’re able to do that.”
For those who would like to donate to the K9 Fund, Tomahawk Community Bank has an account set up specifically for donations, Elvins said. Challenge coins can also be purchased at the police department and River Valley Bank in Tomahawk, with money from the sale of the coins going to the fund.
Elvins noted the department appreciates any donation, no matter the size. “An elderly lady brought us 20 bucks. She said, ‘This is all I can afford.’ You know, that 20 bucks was awesome. It helped us.”