This week, the Matteson Police Department of Illinois was officially presented a $500 grant as part of the Aftermath K9 Grant Competition, held in October of 2016. Over 165,000 votes were received during the contest, which ran from September 30th until October 31st. Winners were chosen by popular vote. In the past blogs, we’ve showcased these four-legged heroes to find out what makes them so valued in their communities. Today, we share our most recent visit with K9 Officer Jayda.
Matteson’s Police Chief, Michael Jones, said he first heard about the Aftermath K9 grant from a Detective Sargent in the unit who received a flyer at a conference in 2015. When it came time to vote, Chief Jones’ sister did quite a bit of leg work, reaching out to the community through social media and word of mouth. As a result of the community’s efforts, the department placed 5th out of over 3,000 nominees in the month-long competition.
“We shared the K9 grant information with the community and got them involved,” Jones relates. “Everyone was excited to vote, show support, and help get our name out there.”
The win came at a fortuitous time because the K9 unit was in transition. K9 Officer Jayda joined the force in late December, replacing K9 Officer Xanto, who retired at the age of 9. After completing a strenuous 10-week training course, Jayda, a Belgian Malinois, is now on solo patrol with her partner, Officer Jim Strappazon.
Though she’s still a rookie, 3 year-old Jayda has already logged a sizable drug seizure: she recently assisted with a search and discovered 8 lbs of marijuana and $56,000 in cash. She is eager to serve the community and looks forward to matching and exceeding Xanto’s famous apprehension of over $100,000 of cash! Meanwhile, Xanto is happily adjusting to his retirement with Officer Strappazon and family.
Jayda’s reward for a job well done is play time with Officer Strappazon and her favorite toys. She is particularly attached to her yellow ball and tug toys made from pieces of old fire hose. The K9 officer is also multi-lingual; she understands commands in Dutch, German, Spanish, and English. Jayda will serve as a multipurpose K9 for the unit, operating on patrol and also working narcotics.
A Family Affair
As with many human officers, police work runs in Jayda’s family. Her father was a proud K9 officer for the Decatur Police Department, while her daughter was just sworn in as an arson dog for the Matteson Fire Department. Not to be outdone, her son is also currently in training to be a police K9.
Using the $500 K9 Grant
According to the department, the $500 grant from Aftermath Services will be used to help pay for Jayda’s initial and continued training. Chief Jones relates: “Most people don’t realize how expensive it is to have a K9 unit. Jayda and Officer Strappazon train every week. Added to that are costs to maintain special equipment. We are thankful for the Aftermath grant because there isn’t always funding available; this is why more than half of departments do not have K9 units.”
Before winning the grant, the Matteson Police Department was already familiar with Aftermath and the services it provides to families in crisis. Chief Jones stated: “Aftermath has always been there for us, but the K9 grant is something special. It brings so much positive attention to police departments and provides the engagement that we’re looking for with our community.”
About Aftermath Services LLC.
As the nation’s largest dedicated crime scene cleanup company, Aftermath Services LLC proudly recognizes the contributions made by K9 officers and their partners. The annual K9 Grant is just one aspect of the Aftermath Cares program, aimed at acknowledging first responders for their ongoing efforts to protect and improve their communities. For more information on trauma cleaning services, or to learn more about the relationship between Aftermath and law enforcement, call 877-872-4339 or visit www.aftermath.com.