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White Plains Police Get K-9 Unit, Traffic Grants

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Three grants and a donation have made it a profitable week for the White Plains Public Safety Department, which Commissioner David Chong said will help police start building a canine unit and enhance traffic safety.

The White Plains Police Department currently relies on police dogs from Harrison, Yonkers, Mount Vernon or the MTA Police Department available through mutual aid. A $15,000 donation from the Fenway Golf Club’s charitable foundation will help White Plains’ buy a dog, train the canine and its handler, and fund some of the dog’s veterinary and health needs.

“This department is one of the only major municipalities in the region that doesn’t have police dogs,” said Chong. “With our infrastructure as the county seat, our shopping commerce and houses of worship, I believe a canine unit will be a valuable asset.”

The first dog will be cross-trained to handle explosive detection and serve as a patrol dog by helping to locate suspects or missing people. After an “extensive” training program, Chong said he hopes to see canine hit the White Plains streets by next spring. The public safety commissioner envisions White Plains later training a second dog to do police patrol and narcotics detection work.

“There’s really been a tremendous amount of public support for it, including people who have said they’d like to donate to support the dog,” said Chong. “Once you get the dog there’s really not a lot of significant costs associated with the unit.”

White Plains also was awarded three grants from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee: $16,000 to enhance enforcing a ban on using a non-hands-free cell phone while driving, $10,000 to support pedestrian safety initiatives, and $6,386 to strengthen seat belt use.

The money will mostly be used to for related educational materials and enforcing violations enough that residents grow more accustomed to following the rules.

“The grants help because what happens is a lot of times we are the victim of our own success because public safety in our city is so successful and the grants are really more for cities in need,” Chong said of the fact that AAA recently rated White Plains one of the most pedestrian-safe cities in New York.

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