K-9 Thor Now Active Member of Department Alongside Handler Officer Joshua DeJesus
EAST BRIDGEWATER — Chief Paul O’Brien and Deputy Chief Michael Jenkins are pleased to announce that the East Bridgewater Police Department’s first-ever K-9 has officially joined the department following the completion of his training.
K-9 Thor, a 1-year-old German Shepard, and handler Officer Joshua DeJesus, completed their training and certification program Friday, Oct. 15. K-9 Thor was immediately put into service as an active member of the department following the training.
K-9 Thor will perform all of the duties expected of a police K-9, including search and rescue operations, narcotics searches, suspect apprehension, community events interactions and more.
“So far, Thor has exceeded all of my expectations, and he has already become such a valuable addition to the department,” Officer DeJesus said. “The value of a police K-9 is well documented, not only from the policing side, but from the community side as well. He is a very obedient dog and did very well with the training, but is also very sociable and is going to be a terrific ambassador for the East Bridgewater Police.”
K-9 Thor was just 11 months old when he began his training, which is on the younger side for dogs who enroll in a K-9 program, but he completed the work with no issues. He trained alongside dogs from Braintree and Brockton as part of the course, which was overseen by Massachusetts DOC K-9 trainer Sgt. Mark O’Reilly.
“Everything went so smoothly, and having Sgt. O’Reilly there to guide us and answer any questions we had was a tremendous resource,” Officer DeJesus said. “Starting a K-9 program takes a great deal of work, but we had the backing of the department and the entire community, and we are ready to start protecting and serving the citizens of East Bridgewater.”
Chief O’Brien and Deputy Chief Jenkins began researching how to fund and implement a K-9 program in East Bridgewater in the fall of 2020. In March of this year they were approached by local business owners Dan DeSantis and Michael Payton, on behalf of Hometown Foundation, a Connecticut-based nonprofit charity that works to place K-9s with police departments at no cost.
East Bridgewater Police were excited to partner with Hometown Foundation, and after receiving approval from the Board of Selectmen in May Officer DeJesus was selected as the future handler for the K-9. EBPD consulted with several area K-9 programs to learn more about implementing a K-9 program.
In late June, Deputy Chief Jenkins, Officer DeJesus and Sgt. O’Reilly traveled to Kennel Zo Slovenskeho Dvora in Trumbull, Connecticut to select a K-9. The dog selected was renamed Thor in honor of East Bridgewater High School’s Viking mascot.
He was then brought home to live with Officer DeJesus and his family, and the 16-week training soon began.
For Payton, an East Bridgewater native, seeing the EBPD K-9 program become a reality has been particularly rewarding.
“This is my home, and it’s where I raised my family, so to be able to contribute to something like this is very special,” Payton said. “It’s rewarding to place any K-9 with a department, but to be able to help bring Thor to the East Bridgewater community means a lot, and so far it has been a remarkable success.”
To recognize the department’s first ever K-9, Thor and Officer DeJesus were presented a citation from State Rep. Alyson Sullivan prior to the East Bridgewater Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Oct. 12. State Senators Michael Brady and Walter Timilty have also expressed their support for the program.
“Congratulations to the East Bridgewater Police Department on commissioning their first ever K-9 unit. K-9 Officer Joshua DeJesus and K-9 Thor will do a great job protecting and serving the East Bridgewater community,” Rep. Sullivan said. “I would also like to recognize the many supporters who made the K-9 unit possible with their generous financial support, which in turn incurred no cost to the Town of East Bridgewater. I want to wish K-9 Officer DeJesus and K-9 Thor great success as they serve the community of East Bridgewater.”
In addition to funding 100 percent of the cost of the K9, Hometown Foundation also provided a bulletproof vest and Garmin GPS collar, as well as transportation for the department to meet with the breeder and select the dog.
This is the first K-9 that Hometown Foundation has placed with Massachusetts police department. In total they have placed more than two dozen K-9s with departments in 12 states since 2017.
East Bridgewater Police held multiple fundraisers to assist with the new K-9 program. In July, they partnered with Massachusetts Vest-A-Dog and Mollie’s Tenth Annual Vest-A-Dog Fundraiser for an event that featured raffles, K-9 demonstrations and more. In total, the event raised over $20,000 for equipment and supplies for the new EBPD K-9 program.
The department also held a cornhole tournament fundraiser in August to further benefit the K-9 program. The event featured raffles, food trucks, a cash bar and more.
In addition to formal fundraisers, several local residents and business owners have also donated approximately $3,500 to the K-9 program.
“Starting a K-9 program was a key goal that Deputy Chief Jenkins and I made when we assumed our new roles in the department, and we are thrilled that it is now a reality and that Officer DeJesus and Thor are the ones who will be representing the department in this new effort,” Chief O’Brien said. “From everyone at the Hometown Foundation including Dan DeSantis and Michael Payton, to Sgt. O’Reilly and his team, to the many K-9 experts we consulted with during the process, and the many residents who donated to our events, this truly was a community effort and we can’t wait to see the many ways having a K-9 will positively impact our department.”
The East Bridgewater Police Department would like to thank the members of the EBPD K-9 advisory group, which in addition to Chief O’Brien and Deputy Chief Jenkins also included Sgt. O’Reilly, Bridgewater Police Chief Christopher Delmonte, Bridgewater Police K-9 Officer Steve Kingsley, Bridgewater K-9 Officer Chris Rondeau, Brockton K-9 Sgt. Robert Dillido and Middleboro K-9 Sgt. Jerry Donahue.