Monday, May 14, 2012

He's Left His Mark-O

Marko and Mick Markovich at work just before his retirement.
Mercury Photo by John Strickler
Following in the (padded) footsteps of his canine peer, Pottstown Canine Officer Marko was officially recognized for his retired Wednesday night at the borough council work session.

Sgt. Michael (Mick) Markovich received the citation, but Marko couldn't make it.

I would tell you about all about the story of Marko, but I can't improve on the job already done by my peer, Mercury Police Reporter Brandie Kessler.

Her April 27th story tells much of what there is to tell about Marko, including the fact that "Marko was trained to work patrol and sniff out narcotics. He was SWAT level 3 certified, and both Marko and Asztor were on the Ches-Mont Emergency Response Team, or CMERT.

She also quoted Pottstown Police Capt. F. Richard Drumheller as saying that Marko’s ability to detect drugs was so fine-tuned, “he could sniff out a marijuana seed hidden under a mattress inside of a trunk.”

Mayor Bonnie Heath, right, presents Markovich with Marko's
proclamation at Wednesday's borough council meeting.
Marko's retirement comes just a short time after the retirement of Asztor,  A K-9, handled by officer Mike Long, who retired in November and was given similar recognition by Mayor Heath and borough council.

As Brandie reported, the Pottstown Poilce have two newer K-9s, Taz, whose handler is Jeffrey Portock and Jax, whose handler is Pete Yambrick

But there will soon be two more, Pottstown Police Chief Mark Flanders said Wednesday night.

"Asztor will be replaced with funding coming from the district attorney's office and we have two handlers in school right now," Flanders said.

With another funding source paying for the purchase of a fourth K-9, "we'll be right back up to four very shortly."

K-9 officers bring a number of attributes to the job, according to the web site for Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who have used them extensively since 1937.

Not the least of these is the fact that a dog can search a car in approximately three minutes.

Also, they're comparatively inexpensive. Healthy police service dogs cost less than $1,000 annually to maintain.

"The first people to use dogs for guarding included Persians, Greeks, Assyrians and Babylonians, who used dogs for protection or war tactics as early as 5th century B.C", according to the "Fun Dog Facts" web site. "After the fall of Rome, the Spanish Conquistadors resumed the use of dogs as protectors, and by 1610, the British colonists of Jamestown were using dogs in anti-Indian measures

There are some famous police dogs as well.

“Tracker,” a 10-year old German Shepherd working for the Ontario Provincial Police, was awarded for over 500 searches at the time of his retirement. “Lance,” another Ontario Provincial Police dog, tracked down a missing woman in swampland for three hours before leading her home to safety. Known for his work as a rescue dog in the Oklahoma City bombings, the police dog “Pascha” also helped victims after the Earthquake in Kobe, Japan and Hurricane Opal victims in Panama City, Florida.

Here is a video from Wednesday night's meeting in which Heath makes her presentation.

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