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New Antioch squad accommodates K-9 cop

Antioch police officer Charles Smith with Justice next their new squad 2012 Chevrolet Caprice. The new squad will be unveiled

Antioch police officer Charles Smith with Justice next to their new squad a 2012 Chevrolet Caprice. The new squad will be unveiled at the Shop with a Cop event on December 12, 2012. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 27, 2013 1:57AM

ANTIOCH — A new vehicle for Justice, the police department’s 4-year-old German shepherd, will be unveiled during the annual Shop with a Cop event Dec. 12.

The acquisition of the new Chevrolet Caprice for Justice, a trained dog with abilities in drug detection, people and cadaver search, is as miraculous as how the dog was acquired by the department in March 2011, said Police Chief Craig Somerville.

The need for a K-9 unit in Antioch to combat drug and gang crime was publicized last year and within weeks, the police department had a dog, even though a lack of funds was standing in the way.

“Word got out through the media and within a few days I had two dozen offers of dogs from all over the country,” Somerville recalled.

Funds to buy and train the dog, named Justice by fifth-grade DARE program participants, was provided by DAS Charitable Fund, a foundation that has funded other Lake County K-9 units.

“It was like the funding fell out of the sky,” marveled the chief, who was equally excited about obtaining a new squad car for the dog thanks to a deep discount offered by Mark Scarpelli, owner of Raymond Chevrolet of Antioch.

The vehicle, a prototype police car now being used by Antioch Police Department, lists for $33,000. Insurance proceeds from a recently wrecked squad will be used to purchase and outfit the vehicle, said Somerville.

Most of the equipment will come from the aged SUV that is currently used as the K-9 squad car. The vehicle will cost $15,000 with another $2,000 used to buy any new equipment needed to fully outfit the new vehicle.

Scarpelli, who has donated or discounted vehicles for other community and village organizations, said he’s just being a good corporate citizen.

“We want to help whenever we can, and in this instance it worked out for everyone,” he said. “We could not sell a police vehicle to a private citizen, and the police department needed a new vehicle.”

Somerville said the new squad was on the police department’s wish list as it retires the last vehicles in the old fleet.

“A new squad for Justice to replace the SUV was on our wish list not only because it has more than 200,000 miles on it, but because it is hard on a dog’s hips to get in and out of the SUV, which was a hold-over from our old fleet,” he explained. “We had planned to put it out to pasture anyway, this just makes it possible much sooner. It is a deal that is almost too good to be true. Justice will appreciate it.”

The new squad will be outfitted and ready to roll by the Dec. 12 Shop With a Cop program for children ages five to 12 from needy families identified by Antioch School District 34.

Kids and parents or guardians are invited to the police station for a pizza party, tours of the station, Christmas caroling and presents, followed by transportation in squad cars to Walmart, where children will shop with police officers. Each child is allocated money to spend for presents for themselves and family members.

The children will shop in two groups, the first at 4 p.m., and the second at 6 p.m. Before reaching their shopping destination the children will make a stop at Raymond Chevrolet, where the new car will be showcased.

Sponsors of the event include Antioch Walmart, Raymond Chevrolet, Antioch Pizza, Body Craft, Inc., Antioch Automotive and Antioch Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 210.

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