Clinton Police Department K9 officer Junior can feel a little more secure now, thanks to the efforts of one local high school student.
As part of her senior project, Sampson Early College High School student Raquel Arenas raised the funds needed to purchase Junior a new bulletproof vest.
Junior is a K9 officer with the department and under the handle of Sgt. Matt Bland, who has been an officer with the department for seven years.
Arenas has an interest in pursuing a career in criminal justice. With the assistance of her mentor, Jennifer Wiley, department chair for criminal justice at Sampson Community College, the senior was able to tour the security department at RDU International Airport and take part in a two-week ride-along with Bland and Sgt. Eddie Carter, who is the handler for the department’s other K9 officer, Sarge.
“I have always had a personal interest in dogs and pursuing a career in criminal justice,” Arenas said. “Now, after completing my senior project, visiting the airport and riding with Sgt. Bland and Sgt. Carter for two weeks, I am even more interested in a career with law enforcement.”
During her ride-along, Arenas said she learned that the bulletproof vests worn by Junior and Sarge were close to being retired. That meant, the K9 officers were need of new protective gear, which is very costly.
“My goal was to raise enough money to purchase a new vest for Junior,” Arenas said.
Fellow student Michelle Calmo-Gomez is working to purchase a new vest for Sarge as her senior project.
Bland, who explained how necessary the vests are for the K9 officers, said he was very appreciative of Arenas and her commitment to the Clinton Police Department staff.
“Not only is this vest bulletproof, but it’s stab proof,” Bland explained. “Now, when certain situations arise, I can send Junior in ahead of me and know he is safe and protected.”
Sampson Early College High School assistant principal Tiffany Holland said she was extremely proud of Arenas and her eagerness to get the funds to purchase the vest.
“As part of their senior project, they have the product portion,” Holland explained. “For her product, Raquel wanted to purchase a bulletproof vest for Junior. Since the product has to be a way of giving back to the community, Raquel immediately knew she wanted to do something for the police department.”
Bland will be working with Calmo-Gomez as a mentor and assisting her with her senior project.
Holland, who expressed her appreciation to both Wiley and Bland for agreeing to serve as mentors, encourages the community to step up and be mentors for other students.
“People in the community who offer to be mentors are awesome,” Holland said. “We truly appreciate those who step up and volunteer.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.