Edgewater Police Department's new k-9 means bad karma for crooks


Multi-story presentation on police canines

NSBNews.net video and photos by Sera Frederick / Edgewater police have a new law officer to help take a bite out of crime: Karma, a Belgian malinois, partnered with officer John Tarr. Below, Karma shows how big his jaws are, carrying the arm protector used in training.

KarmaEDGEWATER -- An alleged burglar ran off after a woman in her home in the 3200 block of Umbrella Tree Drive home saw him trying to open one of the windows, but after she called 9-1-1, the long paw of the law with sharp teeth caught up with him two blocks away.

Michael Summerall was just getting inside his Chevy SUV in the 3400 block of Umbrella Tree Drive when he was spotted by cops, thanks to the scent he left that was picked up by a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois on a leash with his human cop partner, John Tarr right, behind him.

Summerall was lucky. Had he been outside the vehicle and hiding, the police dog would have pounced on him with a bite and subsequent clenched jaw somewhere on his body. Most likely an arm or leg.

Instead, Summerall gave up, was handcuffed and placed under arrest. Police found items in the vehicle from a previous burglary and the SUV he was driving was stolen from the neighborhood. Summerall was charged with burglary and grand theft auto and transported to jail where he is awaiting trial on felonies that could net him up to 30 years in prison, if convicted.

Had it not been for Karma picking up the scent, he might have very well gotten away.

That was a month ago. Since then, the k-9 unit has become a fixture at traffic stops, burglary calls in progress and other police enforcement matters.

Nobody is more thrilled about Karma's abilities than Edgewater Police Chief Dave Arcieri, who lobbied the city commission to pony up the money for this salivating crime-fighter. One of Arcieri's biggest supporters was City Councilman Ted Cooper, an animal lover who died Nov. 30 of a massive heart attack at the age of 61.

With Cooper's blessing and those of his colleagues earlier this year, $11,500 was spent on the dog, as well as the field training required with its human partner, officer Tarr, and related equipment.

Edgewater joins the ranks of Volusia County police agencies with k-9 units. The Volusia County Sheriff's Office has the most with 18, followed by Daytona Beach PD with seven dogs, Port Orange PD with four dogs, DeLand and New Smyrna Beach PD's each with two dogs, and Ormond Beach and Holly Hill PD's each with one dog.

Karma and John TarrEdgewater k-9 officer John Tarr and Karma relax in the back of his SUV. In the inset photo, Karma gets ready for his next command, all of which are given in German, taught to him as a puppy in his native homeland where most police dogs are bred.

While most of the police dogs are trained as "dual purpose," meaning they can track people through scent and sniff out drugs, the Sheriff's Office has dogs with a third talent: Sniffing for bombs.

While local police agencies have deployed dogs for the last decade, the Sheriff's Office, Volusia County's largest law enforcement agency has used them for decades, agency spokesman Brandon Haught said.

"These k-9 units, the dog and the handler, are invaluable for practically every single call," Haught said. "They serve as a deterrent. Sniffing for narcotics is important and the presence of a k-9 can be deterrent to bring situations to a more peaceful resolution."

What Haught means is those stopped by a deputy or a cop will think twice about trying anything funny with the presence of the k-9 and a dog ready to pounce.

Edgewater's Arcieri knows that with a tight budget of $2.7 million and 34 officers, the new k-9 unit is already paying dividends.

"It will greatly enhance our ability to apprehend felons fleeing from a crime scene," the police chief said, pointing to the Florida Shores burglary capture as a prime example of money well spent. "They tracked the burgler right to the car and it was stolen, too."

"It will greatly enhance our ability to apprehend felons fleeing from a crime scene," the police chief said, pointing to the Florida Shores burglary capture as a prime example of money well spent. "They tracked the burgler right to the car and it was stolen, too."

As for training of the human part of the k-9 unit, no worries there either. Tarr, 38, was a canine cop with the Daytona Beach police force and supervised the program there. Regardless, both underwent 400 hours of mandatory training for certification with the Samsula-based Southern Coast K-9.

Asked whether he'd trust the dog to carry out his orders, regardless of the situation,  Tarr answered, "Yes, of course. He's my partner."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Here are links to three sidebars related to this story:




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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com, launched April 7, 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with scores of regional, state & national journalism-industry awards for nearly 100 breaking news & investigative reporting stories in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut.
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