Medina Police K-9 gets bulletproof vest thanks to BOCES and community support

Posted 26 March 2013 at 12:00 am
K9 Bulletproof Vest

Kathleen Holler (Empire Emergency Apparatus), Ryan Leffeler (Survival Armour), Sergeant Todd Draper, teacher aide Sharon Librera and student Luke Burdette.

Press Release: Orleans/Niagara BOCES

Medina Police Officer Sergeant Todd Draper and his K-9 partner hold a special place in the hearts of the Orleans/Niagara BOCES students at the Orleans Learning Center.

Sergeant Draper and his K-9 Kye, a Belgian Malinois, visit the center frequently to see the classes and the students have become very attached to Kye. When the students realized that Kye did not have a bulletproof vest to help protect him when he was on duty, the students made it their mission to raise money to get him one.

“Even though the K-9s are considered police officers, vests are not standard for them,” says teacher Theresa Clause. “The students were very upset about that.”

The students have been busy with Mrs. Clause and classroom aides Sharon Librera and Kathy Scarborough making and selling chocolate suckers to staff and students at their center and also to members of the community. They had managed in three months’ time to make $500, but it wasn’t enough to get the vest which range in price from $1,200 to $2,800. After appealing to the community through newspaper stories and posting on the Channel 2 – WGRZ website the outpouring of support for the students’ quest was remarkable.

“We actually had a few people contact us and say they would cover whatever the students couldn’t come up with so Kye would get his vest,” says Mrs. Clause. “We were very moved by people’s generosity.”

A local company, Empire Emergency Apparatus, decided they had to do something too.

“We had an employee who saw it on WGRZ and called me and said can’t we do anything to help,” explained Operations Manager Kathleen Holler. “I have a sister-in-law who worked for BOCES and I know how heartfelt this gesture was for the students and it really touched me. We supply law enforcement and fire personnel with equipment so I went to my boss and said can we do anything. He said let’s give them a vest. I almost started crying.”

She contacted Ryan Leffler, who works for Survival Armor, a ballistic protection company out of Florida and asked if he would be willing to come and measure Kye for a vest. He didn’t hesitate.

“I thought this is fantastic. These dogs put their lives at risk every day and they deserve to be protected. I am glad to be here and very happy to help these students’ with their goal.”

What was the reaction of the students while they watched their friend get fitted for his vest?

“We are so happy,” says Luke Burdette. “When I heard about that police dog that got killed in Herkimer it made me so sad and now I know that Kye will be safe and that is awesome.”

Sergeant Draper says he is very appreciative. “The students got it started with working so hard to raise the money and what a great added bonus to have this company be so generous in providing a vest for Kye. I can’t thank Empire Emergency Apparatus enough.”

Mrs. Clause says they are beyond thrilled how everything worked out.

“After talking to Sergeant Draper we have decided to donate the money we raised to a fund that will help other K-9’s get vests. This has been a great day for everyone. We want to thank everyone who made this possible. You have done a wonderful thing in protecting those who protect us.”