LUMBERTON — One of Lumberton’s most loyal police officers is now safer on the job.
Officer Nero, a 2-year-old German Shepherd, has a bulletproof vest after 10 months on the force. The vest was purchased by a Massachusetts charity called Vested Interest in K-9s.
“It makes me feel better knowing that he’s protected in case someone tried to stab at him or shoot at him. I can pay attention to what I’m doing and know he’s protected,” his handler, Officer Travis Ransom, said.
Ransom and Nero have been partners since Nero joined the department in March 2013 after graduating from training and often accompany each other to search for drugs, track suspects after break-ins and robberies and chase criminals on foot.
“… There is a lot that is said about the officers and the different things that exist to help officers, but not much about our K-9s. I seriously can’t imagine this Police Department without my partner Nero,” Ransom said.
In addition to the charity, Nero and Ransom can thank another officer’s wife —and opportunely-timed news segment — for the gift.
“My wife happened to have seen a story about the charity on a news program on TV … I asked Officer Ransom if he thought that it was something he would be interested in for Nero and he said yes,” Officer Robert Morse said in a statement from the Police Department. “We then contacted Sandy Marcal, president of Vested Interest. She accepted our application and began the process. We couldn’t be happier.”
Vested Interest has provided 571 bulletproof and stab-proof vests to police dogs in 38 states since it was founded in 2009, according to the nonprofit’s website. The $950 bill for Nero’s vest came from New Year’s’ Eve donations, according to the Lumberton Police Department’s statement.
“We at the Police Department couldn’t be more appreciative to Vested Interest. It’s nice to know that there are companies out there that are like this,” Ransom said.
Now, only one Lumberton police officer is in need of a vest — a four-legged crime fighter named Spike.