Last week, Aftermath representatives presented the Pekin Police Department (IL) with a $1000 grant as 2nd place winners in the company’s 5th Annual K9 Grant Competition. During the month-long competition, over 3,000 police departments were nominated and more than 152,000 votes were counted. Other winning departments include agencies in New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and New York. Since then, we’ve had opportunity to visit with many of the winners and meet their noble K9 officers in person. We hope you enjoy getting to know these hardworking officers as much as we did!
Welcome to Pekin, IL
As part of the Peoria, Illinois metropolitan area, the city of Pekin is home to over 35,000 people. Protecting the community is a police force of 56 officers, including K9 Officer Ahen and his partner, Officer Rob Jones. The Dutch Shepard has worked with the Pekin PD for 5 years, since he was just 2. He was born and trained in Turkey, which is where he gets his unusual name. The K9 and his partner are assigned to routine patrol, but Ahren’s multi-dimensional skillset is called upon in many situations. He has a nose for narcotics, tracking, and suspect apprehension. He is also proficient in crowd control – when Officer Jones is facing one way, Ahen knows to face the opposite direction so he always has his partner’s back.
Pekin’s K9 Ambassador
Ahen is a very active dog who loves to play, which means he also works hard to earn his rewards. In winter, he puts on a winter coat (and a few extra pounds!), but in summer, Ahen is slim and ready for the beach. The Department’s Public Information Officer, Detective Eeten, says Ahen has achieved celebrity status in the Pekin community due to his personality. He is a great ambassador to the community – he often visits special needs children, where he is known to give K9 cuddles. He is also partial to off-duty belly rubs. “He loves interacting with people and is very good natured – the department takes him everywhere. He does a lot of community and school events and is a great ambassador. He is also a great listener!”
The Department relied on Ahen’s popularity while competing for the grant. Local media outlets picked up the story; one TV station even reminded viewers to vote for Ahen each morning. When the Department received word about their second place win, Detective Eeten sent around an email to share the news with everyone in the office.
The K9 grant comes at an ideal time, too. After several years of service, the Pekin Police Department is planning to retire the old K9 vehicle; the $1000 grant from Aftermath will be put toward the purchase of a cruiser for Ahen and his partner. The new vehicle will include upgraded safety features, such as a latch which allows the dog to exit the vehicle if their partner is in need of help.
Though the Pekin Police Department is excited about their winnings, Detective Eeten feels that the K9 Grant provided something even more priceless than just funds: “The very best part of this contest was how it brought our community together and got them engaged with us. No amount of money could get us that kind of support and interaction with our people. It made people care.”
Check out the Pekin Police Department’s YouTube channel to see a clip of Ahen and his fellow officers accepting their grant check.
Nationwide, a Community that Cares
We enjoyed our visit with Ahen and the rest of the Pekin PD last week, and we’re looking forward to introducing you to more of the K9 Grant winners in upcoming weeks. Representatives of Aftermath will be meeting with the winning departments all month long to officially present their grant checks. Be sure to keep an eye on our blog for great interviews and photos with the rest of this year’s winning pack!
Aftermath’s 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 877-698-5517 or visit www.aftermath.com.