ARLINGTON — The Mirkwood Public House has received no shortage of friendly visits from Arlington police since opening its doors a decade ago, so the staff wanted to show its support for the officers.
Mirkwood events coordinator Nelly Osborn credited bartender Trisha Landells with suggesting a “Police Appreciation Night.”
“They always come when we call, ready to help us out,” Osborn said. “So we wanted them to get some positive recognition.”
Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura told them the money could go toward the department’s K9 program.
“The K9 program is entirely funded through direct donations, so that was an easy one,” Ventura said. “It’s the community’s support that sustains the program.”
Ventura explained that the cost of purchasing a K9 is at least $10,000 per dog, so with two dogs, the program had already spent more than $20,000 before it even bought the dogs’ specialized diets of food or training equipment.
“They’re both trained to find narcotics, but one is also trained as a tracking dog, so that requires additional training time and equipment, including a bite sleeve and a bite suit,” Ventura said. “The tracking dog also needs a Kevlar vest, in case suspects try to shoot it.”
Ventura noted that both K9 handlers take their dogs home, so fenced-off play areas have to be set up at their houses.
The K9 officers’ cars likewise require additional customization, including a heat alarm that will sound a siren, roll down the windows and even unlock the doors of the car if it gets too hot for the dog inside.
Ventura estimated that brings the total cost to as much as $50,000 per dog.
“That makes it especially impressive that we can maintain two K9 dogs in a community this size, when other, larger communities have none,” said Ventura, who touted the dogs as a vital asset in the midst of the region’s heroin epidemic.
Ventura expressed his appreciation to community members such as the Mirkwood staff for making the K9 program possible, while Osborn credited the musicians who agreed to perform for “Police Appreciation Night” on short notice.
“We tend to book our acts about two months in advance,” Osborn said. “For this one, I had a month and a half to do it. It’s always difficult for bands to clear their schedules, but they’ve all been fabulous. We’ve been able to offer an all-ages friendly evening of entertainment.”
Ventura sees this event as an example of the community engagement that Arlington police have been pushing for.
“That they would reach out to us, to ask what they could do for us, is amazing,” Ventura said. “It’s up to us to maintain that trust.”