On November 4th, Aftermath proudly announced this year’s winners of the 2016 K9 Grant Competition. Hundreds of police departments were nominated and over 152,000 votes were received during the month-long event. At the tail end, 5 departments emerged as clear leaders of the pack. Aftermath recently had the chance to interview Chief Michael Jones of the Matteson Police Department in Illinois, 5th place winners of the annual event. Read on to learn more about K9 Officers Xanto and Jayda, as well as their fantastic team:
Who’s Who of the Matteson K9 Unit
Chief Jones says that he first heard about the Aftermath K9 grant from a Detective Sargent in the unit who received a K9 flyer at a conference last year. The department entered the contest a week behind the rest and did not place, but they were reminded of the opportunity in time to fully participate this year. The Chief’s own sister was their strongest supporter. “She really pushed for people to vote online for Matteson,” Jones said
The K9 grant comes at an interesting time for the Matteson PD, too. K9 Officer Xanto is retiring in January and the unit is introducing a new dog. The 8 year old German Shepherd has been on the street for nearly 5 years. Xanto will continue to live with Officer Strappazon after his retirement. “I can’t give him up,” Strappazon said. “He’s definitely part of my family.”
Officer Strappazon and the department’s new K9 Officer, Jayda, recently completed their training in Decatur, IL. Chief Jones said that the prospect of training a new dog is exciting, but difficult. “There is a transition period for everything. Making the choice to retire Xanto was a difficult thing to do. Plus, you never know what temperament the new dog will have. We were very fortunate to have such a great experience with Xanto.”
Jayda is a Belgian Malinois; she will turn 3 in a couple of months. Jayda recently had a little of pups and her adoption fees were donated to the department. She trained with another female dog that will work with the Matteson Fire Department. Jayda will serve as a multipurpose K9 for the unit, operating on patrol and also working narcotics. While there is some nervousness surrounding the new addition, Chief Jones has full confidence that Officer Strappazon and Jayda will do well.
As for what the department plans to do with the recent grant, Jones explains: “We just bought a new car that came with all of the K9 amenities prior to the grant, so we are set from an equipment standpoint. However, it seems like new costs are always coming up. Because Xanto is retiring, the grant will be used to help offset the costs of certifying Jayda.”
Community and Partnership
Before winning the grant, Matteson was already familiar with Aftermath, referring families in need of services to the company. 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. We shared the K9 grant information with the community and got them involved. The community was excited to vote and show support, and it helps gets our name out there.”
The K9 grant is just one way Aftermath thanks those who do so much for our communities. Through programs, sponsorships, and events like the K9 Grant, Aftermath is also spreading the word about the importance of professional trauma cleanup and biohazard remediation. To learn more about our services or our relationship with law enforcement, visit our website.