New technology keeps SPD K-9s, officers safe in patrol cars

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Police Department is investing in new technology that keeps officers and their K-9s safe both on and off-duty. 

Savannah Police Corporal Benjamin Fererro — who trains and works with a K-9 named Dooly — says the new ACE Watchdog System ensures there are no accidents. 

“We need the best to protect the best,” he said. 

The new high-tech system links to a smart-phone application that can tell officers the temperature of the inside of the car at any time. 

“We as police officers need to leave the dogs inside the cars. We leave the engine running,” said Savannah Police Sergeant Eric Dukarski.

“This will have us worry less about our dogs and we won’t’ have to check them quite so frequently,” he added.

If the inside temperature reaches 86 degrees, the system sends a text to officers. If the inside temperature reaches 92 degrees, the car goes into full alert mode. 

In alert mode, the horns honk, the windows roll down, the fans turn on and a call goes out to officers and dispatchers.

The new system replaces an old one that had limitations. 

“The biggest difference is that you can be across town and still monitor the temperature in your car and get an accurate reading,” said Sgt. Dukarski. 

“It’s a lot of peace of mind,” said Cpl. Fererro. “We live in a place where you worry about bad storms. All these buildings are thick, concrete, steel. Most radio signals don’t go through buildings. But with cell phone technology now, I’ve never lost signal to the car. It’s a great feeling to go anywhere and just look and see that he’s nice and cool.”

Plus, there are new contact panels on one of the back doors. Officers say the car will not turn off until they open the door and check if the dog is still inside. 

And finally, if Cpl. Fererro is far away and needs his sidekick, all he needs to do is push a button on his vest.  The system opens a side door and Dooly comes running.

“You don’t have to worry so much and constantly think if your dog is okay,” said Sgt. Dukarski. 

“It helps us do our job,” said Cpl. Fererro. “It keeps him safe and me safe.”

There are six police K-9 units. Two patrol cars have the new system right now. Chief Roy Minter told officers he wants them in all six patrol cars. 

The Georgia Police K9 Foundation donated a set of equipment to Savannah Police. The foundation donates protection vests and more to departments across the state.

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