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K-9 fundraiser is a huge success

  • Jeff Diederich introduces Figo, who has been the K-9 officer with the Energy Police Department for the past nine years.

    Jeff Diederich introduces Figo, who has been the K-9 officer with the Energy Police Department for the past nine years.
    Courtesy of Angel Quick

  • Williamson County Circuit Clerk Justin Maze and his wife, Valerie, speak to other guests during the "cocktail hour" at the 9th Annual K-9 Fundraiser in Marion earlier this month.

    Williamson County Circuit Clerk Justin Maze and his wife, Valerie, speak to other guests during the "cocktail hour" at the 9th Annual K-9 Fundraiser in Marion earlier this month.
    Courtesy of Angel Quick

 
BY HOLLY KEE
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
Posted on 5/4/2021, 10:05 PM

MARION -- It may have been a wait and the guest list had to be trimmed by nearly half, but the 9th Annual K-9 Fundraiser hosted by the Energy Police Department earlier this month at Kokopelli in Marion was a rousing success.

It was nearly a decade ago that the Energy Police Department decided to add the services of a K-9.

"We had an opportunity within the Energy Police Department to add the K-9 officer," said Jeff Diederich, who works part time for the EPD.

Diederich said that with Chief Shawn Ladd and help from the community, funds were raised to welcome Figo.

Figo is still on duty today.

Police K-9 officers can perform a variety of duties from apprehension, to detection, to search and rescue.

Diederich said that even if every department in the county had a K-9, there still would not be 24-hour coverage.

"The K-9 and handler don't work 24/7," he said.

That makes teamwork between the departments imperative.

"Figo actually serves all of southern Illinois," said Diederich.

The initial cost of employing a K-9 is easily around $65,000, according to Diederich.

Along with training the dog, the handler must also undergo training. Then, there's the cost of the vehicle, which must be equipped with special crates.

Diederich said his vehicle is equipped so that he can transport a prisoner while his K-9 officer also rides in his special crate.

He can also activate the vehicle kennel door remotely from his vest to deploy the K-9.

"There's also an emergency climate control," said Diederich.

That control sets off an alarm if the vehicle's temperature strays from the ideal range that might endanger the K-9.

There is also annual training and recertification for both officers.

There's also costs for equipment and vetting.

All of that costs money that most districts, especially the small districts in rural areas, are not equipped to handle.

So Diederich and Ladd decided to host the annual fundraisers, which have successfully funded the program for nearly a decade.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced last year's event to be postponed.

It was finally able to take place on April 24 and even with a guest list that about half of those usually attending, it was a rousing success.

"I don't know how much we made yet," said Diederich, "but I'm thinking somewhere around $40,000."

The event included a prime rib dinner, raffles, a silent auction, and a live auction.

Diederich said putting it together is a team effort including him, Ladd, who Diederich says is "the ring leader," and staff members from the Village of Energy.

"We get a lot of help from Sherry Vick," he said. "She's a super great lady and a huge help."

Diederich also said the community has been excellent in efforts to support the program.

He said the EPD hopes to add a second K-9, services that will benefit the entire county.