Ohio PD's K9 provides support throughout the community
Angel is a German shepherd trained as a support animal for officers and citizens alike
By John Butler
WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — Lt. Denise DeBiase of the Richmond Heights Police Department surveys the streets with K9 Angel, the official support animal for the city.
Angel, a 14-month-old German shepherd with a coat of white and a friendly disposition, started her imprinting with the Richmond Heights Police Department at 6 weeks of age. She was trained as a support animal for officers and citizens alike.
DeBiase is a veteran police officer for Richmond Heights with over 27 years of experience under her belt who took on the mantle as Angel's handler early on during the animal's service.
Police Chief Thomas Wetzel said that it is a welcomed change from the typical way police dogs are viewed.
"We love having Angel. She's really the life of the party anywhere she goes," Wetzel said. "It's unfortunate because many people associate police dogs with chasing down bad guys and biting people, but she is just here for comforting others and making people feel safe.
"Lt DeBiase has done incredible work with her, and I've seen a real impact they've made in our community."
DeBiase said that they are constantly on patrol together throughout the city, visiting supermarkets, parks and Richmond Heights Elementary School to spread goodwill and support.
The pair visit the school at least once a week to provide support, allow the children to pet and familiarize themselves with Angel, and provide safety tips and practices for the city's youth.
"She brings the calm everywhere she goes," DeBiase said. "She's super supportive at the elementary school, and she's been great at helping these kids calm down."
Angel is also used often as a deterrent against violence as she is often brought in by DeBiase to provide support and calm people who have recently been in physical altercations.
DeBiase said that in the event of such an altercation Angel provides emotional support and sometimes her presence alone is enough to lower the chances of more trouble.
Angel was trained with German commands like "sitz" for sit and "platz" for down.
DeBiase says that the next step for Angel will be training to locate and identify bullet fragments and casings from crime scenes.
"Most of her training now is obedience, and we are going to start training her to track down bullets and gun powder," she said. "We are always looking for shell casings, and it will be a great skill for her to have."
DeBiase hopes to retire soon and said that she will miss the police department and all that they've done for her. That sentiment is echoed toward her partner Angel who she knows will go on to do further great things in her absence.
"Angel is out and about every day, and she makes connections with everybody," DeBiase said. "Angel loves people, and she is always excited to help."
Follow Angel's exploits on Instagram at community_policing_k9angel.
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