The Clayton Police Department has an additional safeguard for one of its officers, thanks to the generosity of a local club. Clayton Area Runners (CAR) presented a K9 ballistic vest to Master Officer Stephen Carter and K9 Officer Tim on Thursday, January 25, 2024, during a gathering at Deep River Brewing Company (700 W. Main Street, Suite 102). “This donation means another K9 has the additional equipment, which traditionally is not provided by law enforcement agencies across the county, to keep their handler, other officers, and the citizens of Clayton safe when those dangerous situations arise,” says Sergeant G.M. Morris.
The cost of one vest is around $2,000, but it has the potential to save a K9 officer’s life. “The vest will help protect the K9’s vital organs from damage in the event that a round is fired at them,” reveals Morris. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), the non-profit organization reports 25 police K9 line of duty deaths in 2023 – 10 of which were the result of gunfire.
Currently, there are four K9 officers serving in the Clayton Police Department: Raven, Ravka, Tim and Titan. Two of the dogs are part of Patrols Squads, one is assigned to the Traffic Safety Unit, and one is dedicated to the schools. “All dogs are trained as ‘Patrol Dogs,’ meaning they are multipurpose to include narcotics detection, article search, handler protection, suspect apprehension, and tracking,” shares Morris. “Our school K9 is also certified on gun detection. To date, the K9s have been valuable tools to the department in locating narcotics and suspects.”
K9 Officer Tim is the second dog to receive a vest. The other is K9 Officer Titan, which the Clayton Police Department secured more than a year ago through the public foundation Brady’s K9 Fund. The founder, Brady Snakovsky, is a school-age child who wanted to know why police K9s weren’t wearing vests when responding to incidents. It is his mission to raise funding for vests, so every serving K9 officer has protective gear. Per Brady’s K9 Fund, there are 50,000 working dogs in the United States, and since 2018, it estimates more than 950 dogs are equipped with vests through fundraising efforts.
Clayton Area Runners is familiar with the work of Brady’s K9 Fund, collaborating with the public foundation to purchase K9 Officer Tim’s vest after its board unanimously voted to approve funds. Upon learning about the need from the Clayton Police Department, CAR board members say they wanted to act. “We value the job and contribution of all our officers, and we hope this is one more step to help keep them safe.”
It is a relationship that has blossomed over the years with Clayton Area Runners on the receiving end of assistance from the Clayton Police Department as well. “We value and appreciate their service to our community,” relays the CAR board. “They have always assisted CAR when asked for traffic control…and we strongly appreciate their patrol of parking areas for our local greenways.” Several runners from the club also participate in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, which benefits Special Olympics NC.
While this is a first-time donation for the Clayton Police Department, Clayton Area Runners gives back to the community in other ways by collecting items for Johnston County Blessings Boxes, planning Neuse River Trail cleanups, and providing funds to local organizations, such as Riverside Ranch, Her Haven of Light, and House of Hope of North Carolina. “It is the heart of CAR members to help others who may not be as fortunate,” expresses the CAR board, “Anything the club can do to help not only goes to the betterment of our community, but it also provides us all with a sense of fulfillment.”
There is an overwhelming sense of gratitude from the Clayton Police Department for the generosity and thoughtfulness of CAR members. Morris says he and his colleagues look forward to publicly acknowledging this donation and showing their appreciation in person. Moving forward, Morris plans to continue his pursuit of equipping every Clayton Police K9 with a vest by working with other non-profit organizations.
To learn more about the Clayton Police Department, click here.