EVANSTON, Ill. - Evanston's only police dog, a German shepherd named Jack, has been officially fitted with a bullet-resistant vest - an even tougher garment than the one worn by the officer who handles him.
Not only bullet-resistant but also knife-resistant, the Kevlar vest was placed on Jack at Northwestern University by Illinois Vest-a-Dog, whose goal is to give a vest to every police dog in the state whose handler wants one.
“A police dog is more than just an investigative tool, it's an officer's partner,” says Lee Harrison, the non-profit group's director. “It makes sense to protect them.”
Jack and his handler, Officer Ted Schienbein, fight crime wherever they're needed in the north suburb, and under a mutual-aid arrangement are available for duty on campus in cooperation with the Northwestern University Police Department.
Northwestern University made a one-time contribution of $25,000 toward start-up costs for the unit in the Evanston Police Department.
In its three years of existence, Illinois Vest-a-Dog has equipped 180 “K9” units across the state.
All 55 of the Chicago Police Department's dogs were given vests by Illinois Vest-a-Dog last summer. Many dogs assigned to the Cook County Sheriff's Police have benefited from the program, in addition to all the dogs in the police forces of DuPage County and many municipalities.
The event was held at the Ford Engineering Design Center lobby, 2133 Sheridan Road, on the Evanston campus.
Those who took part also included police dog Jack and his handler, Evanston Police Officer Ted Schienbein; Lee Harrison, director, Illinois Vest-a-Dog; Fund-raiser Julia Weertman, Evanston dentist; Evanston Mayor Lorraine H. Morton; Evanston City Manager Julia Carroll; Evanston Interim Police Chief Dennis Nilsson; Evanston Deputy Police Chief Sam Pettineo, head of Canine Unit; Northwestern University Police Chief Bruce Lewis; Evanston Aldermen Cheryl Wollin (lst); and Northwestern Dean Julio M. Ottino, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.