Saying "Thank You" To Local Heroes

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
There was probably no safer place to be than at the  Community Appreciation Day that took place at Hare Park, Lincoln, on Saturday, September 28. A total of about 500 people participated in the event including Benton County 911, Benton County Emergency Management Team, Missouri Highway Patrol S.W.A.T., Emergency Medical Services, K-9, Sheriff’s Office, other law enforcement entities and about 375 visitors. Although an Air Evac helicopter was scheduled to take part in the event, it was unable to show up most likely because of strong winds and the threat of rain.
First Responder heroes displayed their power vehicles, and tours were offered of the Sheriff’s Mobile Command Center. There was a demonstration of a K-9 search for planted drug samples performed by a 4 ½ year old German Shepherd named K-9 Hivak, and his owner/handler Deputy Lee Hilty from St. Clair County. There was a lot of interest in the S.W.A.T Armored BearCat vehicle as well as the Emergency Management Communication trailer, and other large vehicles belonging to firefighters and paramedics. Kids enjoyed bounce houses and trackless train rides, and the Friends of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office (FotBCSO) provided free hot dogs, chips, cookies and drinks. 
“The Appreciation Day was good,” commented North Side County Commissioner Glen Nelson who judged the Chili Cookoff.  “There was a good turnout, including six contestants for the Cookoff.”
Other activities were a pie auction, guided fishing trip auction, and 50/50 raffle. Vendors offered raffles for a Shimano Rod and Reel, Four Camera Fortess Security System and Installation, Lux Craft Outdoor Rocking Chair, and a Black and Decker Tool Chest. 
“This Community Appreciation Day was planned by FotBCSO,” reported Judy Salwer, Secretary of the organization. “We wanted everyone to be able to meet our First Responder heroes, and see what they do, as well as to see their vehicles. We were lucky that relatively good weather held until we began cleanup at about 6 PM, when there was a lot of thunder and lightning.”
One of the most popular draws of the Day was the demonstration of the K-9 Detector Dog searching for and locating drug samples that were planted in four vehicles. K-9 owner/handler, 
Deputy Hilty hid small swatches of four different types of drugs on the vehicles and K-9 Hivak searched until he detected a drug. K-9 Hivak had been trained to detect Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetimes, and Heroin. When he found a drug, he sat by the spot where it was hidden and stared at it. The K-9’s reward for successful detection was the chance to chase after and retrieve a green tennis ball thrown by Deputy Hilty. It appeared that the dog loved his work, but was extremely happy when chasing the ball.
“I am representing the Little Rock K-9 Academy in Arkansas,” said Deputy Hilty. “The academy is well known for quality detector dogs, and would like to sell one of them for use by the Benton County’s Sheriff Office.”
Although the Benton County Sheriff’s Office presently has a K-9 named Billy, he is only trained to detect marijuana, and a K-9 with the ability to detect additional drugs would be of greater benefit. Plans are for Billy to get additional training as a “Bite” dog that could protect a law enforcement officer against a violent suspect, at the command of the officer.
“The FotBCSO is going to start working on grants to help purchase a K-9 Detector Dog with training in more types of drugs such as opioids,” said Jo Spicer, on the grant committee. “It would be great if a K-9, trained in detecting multiple drugs, could save one kid from drugs.”
Deputy Hilty told a story about a time that he was in a school district to give a talk about his K-9. During the visit, the dog unexpectedly detected drugs in a young student’s bag. Later, during the same visit, the K-9 found drugs during another unplanned detection that just happened to belong to a sibling of the first student. Then, it was discovered that the drugs came from the siblings home.
Another show stopper at Community Appreciation Day was the S.W.A.T Armored BearCat Vehicle. Missouri Highway Patrol, Troop A, Trooper John Harrison manned the vehicle and talked to visitors about his job with S.W.A.T. He said that he had been with the Highway Patrol for 10 years and was part of S.W.A.T. for seven years. One Warsaw High School Junior spoke extensively with Trooper Harrison about his own goal to eventually become a Trooper and member of S.W.A.T.