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Officer Winston the comfort dog watches Officer Darren Derby place a blue flower on the newly unveiled monument to Pittsfield's K9 officers.
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Officers unveil the $3,600 memorial, which was funded through donations.
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Mayor Linda Tyer and a friend look over the memorial.
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'Our K9 are treated as fellow officers and need to be honored and respected as such,' says interim Chief Thomas Dawley.
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The current K9 unit members: Officer Steven Haecker and K9 Apollo, left, Officer Nicholas Sondrini and K9 Jango, and Officer Jeffrey Slater and K9 Rico.
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Pittsfield Police Honor K9 Partners in New Monument

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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The monument outside the police station names the city's late and retired K9s and their handlers. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police officers saluted the department's "best friends to the end" during a K9 monument unveiling on Tuesday.

Fixed in front of the Pittsfield Police Station, the statue honors 13 former K9s dating back to 1976. Blue roses were placed for each pup next to the bronze shepherd that sits proudly on top.

The department's three active K9s Jango, Rico and Apollo were also honored along with Officer Winston the comfort dog.

"Our K9 are treated as fellow officers and need to be honored and respected as such. They have given years of dedicated companionship and courage to the men and women that wear the badge and the uniform. They see what we see, they respond when we respond, they act when we act, and they protect when we protect. They are a large part of the law enforcement family," interim Chief Thomas Dawley said.

"The names you see on this memorial were loyal to their handlers and to our department and deserve all the recognition we can provide. This memorial is monumental to the K9s that served us by our side in good times and in bad. The Pittsfield Police K9s are officers. Like us, they do their job to the best of their ability, they come to work every day, ready and prepared to work, and never, never disappointed. Our K9 partners exceed the boundaries of their training, keep our officers in our community safe, foster companionship, and at times sacrifice themselves for us, for the community they serve."

IT specialist Gary Munn, clerk Kerri Striebel and John "JR" Cooney, who carved the monument, began planning the project earlier this year with inspiration from another community. Support came together quickly and before they knew it, the statue was being unveiled.

"Back in May, I saw an article about Fitchburg, they did a special memorial for one of their dogs that had fallen and I showed it to Kerri. She's got pictures in our office of all our dogs and we don't have anything to symbolize their memory," Munn explained.  

"So after telling her that, the next day she just went running with it. It was on a fast track and here we are today."

In August, the City Council accepted a donation of the Pittsfield Police K9 Monument valued at $3,600 from Cooney, Chester Granite Co., Striebel, Savino Empire Monuments Inc., Witchslapped, Danielle and Gary Munn, J.H. Maxymillian Inc., PPD Union 447 and the PPD Association to the Pittsfield Police Department.

Sgt. James Parise, who leads the K9 unit, said his most rewarding calls have been as a handler. He worked alongside three of the dogs on the monument: Nero, Remi and Niko.

Parise has been a member of the department for 27 years, 16 with the unit. It was established in 1976 with its first K9 named Shannon.

"Since that time, we have had 16 canines deployed in the city of Pittsfield, three of which are active members and they are here today," he said.

"While the K9 unit is generally considered a specialty unit, their service to our community is irreplaceable. K9s locate lost children, they help detect illegal narcotics, and they find suspects hiding in the most unusual places. As you can imagine, the job is not easy. The sacrifice that K9s have to endure usually goes without notice."

He pointed out that the four-legged officers are on call 24 hours a day seven days a week and are often deployed with no notice to often stressful and dangerous missions in poor weather without complaint.

"We all have fond memories of our K9 partners. Every officer that has served as a K9 officer has a special story to tell about their partner and that's why we're here today to dedicate this memorial, remember, and recognize the outstanding achievements of these K9s, past, present, and future," Parise said.

"In closing, our four-legged partners stand apart from all others that serve this community. Their mission is not only to protect and serve the citizens of Pittsfield but also to stand in harm's way to ensure that each and every officer in this department gets to go home to their family at the end of their shift. They truly are man's best friend to the end."

The officers remarked on how quickly the monument was made possible with support from the department and community.  

The K9s honored in the monument followed by time served and partner:

  • K9 Shannon 1976-1978, Officer Michael Bianco
  • K9 Tiger 1990-1995, Officers James Stimpson and Dwane Foisy
  • K9 Orso 1995-1997 Officer Dwane Foisy
  • K9 Iyox 1997-2007 Officer Dwane Foisy
  • K9 Jack 1998-2001 Officer Marc Strout
  • K9 Nick 2001-2004 Officer Marc Strout
  • K9 Ciro 2006-2017 Officer Jennifer Brueckmann and Detective Losaw
  • K9 Ki  2007-2009 Officer Dwane Foisy
  • K9 Nero 2007-2013 Sgt. James Parise
  • K9 Raimo 2009-2013 Officer Dwane Foisy
  • K9 Remi 2013-2015 Sgt. James Parise
  • K9 Rango 2013-2019 Officer Steven Haecker
  • K9 Niko 2015-2019 Sgt. James Parise

Officer Steven Haecker and K9 Apollo, Officer Nicholas Sondrini and K9 Jango, and Officer Jeffrey Slater and K9 Rico make up the current K9 Unit.

Tags: K9,   memorial,   Pittsfield Police,   

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ServiceNet Announces Two New Senior Leadership Positions

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — ServiceNet, a nonprofit mental health and human services agency based in Northampton, is announced the promotion of two leaders in its Developmental and Brain Injury Services (DBIS) division.
Shawn Robinson, formerly Director of Vocational Services and of Prospect Meadow Farm in Hatfield, has been appointed Vice President of Vocational Services & Day Programs. Robinson, who has worked with ServiceNet since 2011, was recognized in 2023 as the Daily Hampshire Gazette's Person of the Year and he also received a Black Excellence on the Hill Award from the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus. 
Mike Lalak, a former Senior Director of Operations in the DBIS division, has been appointed Vice President of DBIS Residential Services. Lalak first came to ServiceNet in 2012 as a program director and quickly rose through the ranks. He currently oversees 58 of ServiceNet's residential programs across western Massachusetts.   
"These promotions mark an important turning point for ServiceNet,” said Abbas Hamdan, Senior Vice President of DBIS.  “I have every confidence that Mike and Shawn will continue to drive our mission and continuing growth to still new heights.”
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