Half of Wilkes-Barre’s K9 unit back on street, other half still training

By Jerry Lynott - [email protected]
Chase, seen here, and Officer Joseph Homza, half of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department’s K9 unit, returned to service last week after more than a six-month hiatus. - Times Leader file

WILKES-BARRE — Two members of the city’s K9 unit returned to the streets last week after more than a six-month hiatus.

Officer Joseph Homza and Chase were reactivated for duty on July 19, Mayor Tony George said.

The mayor ordered that Chase be taken out of service in January after the dog had bitten three people, including a police officer, during an arrest. The dogs underwent evaluation to determine whether they were suited for police work. The Penn Vet Working Dog Center’s Law Enforcement K9 Training Division in Philadelphia concluded that they were.

The team of Homza and Chase completed in-service training on July 18 at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, according to the Wilkes-Barre Police Benevolent Association, the union representing rank-and-file officers.

The other team of Officer Daniel Roper and Skoty are still training and should be ready for duty in two to three weeks, “maybe quicker than that,” the mayor said Monday.

“I don’t think it will take as long as the first time,” George added.

The dog previously underwent extensive training, but was taken out of service and eventually paired with Roper as a result of an arbitration settlement. In this round, Roper is taking a little more time than Skoty to be certified for duty.

The dogs know what to do, but the officers have to be taught how to work with the dogs, added Wilkes-Barre Police Department Commander Joseph Coffay.

“It’s just another tool” that the department can use, Coffay said of the K9 unit.

Roper and Skoty will work with Paul Price of the North East Police K9 Academy in Wilkes-Barre Township, who had been training with the city’s K9 teams prior to them being taken out of service, Coffay said.

The teams will undergo monthly training, the mayor said.

Chase, seen here, and Officer Joseph Homza, half of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department’s K9 unit, returned to service last week after more than a six-month hiatus.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Chase-K9.jpgChase, seen here, and Officer Joseph Homza, half of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department’s K9 unit, returned to service last week after more than a six-month hiatus. Times Leader file

By Jerry Lynott

[email protected]

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.