By Dan Campana
In a nationwide competition that featured 3,300 police agencies and somewhere in the neighborhood of 330,000 votes, K-9 Ahen from the Pekin Police Department finished on top to earn a $5,000 grant.
The 2017 grant program offered by Aftermath Inc. doled out a total of $16,500 in funding to eight departments around the country, including Pekin, to help offset the cost of creating or maintaining K-9 operations. Pekin, located south of Peoria along the Illinois River, finished second in 2016 and received $1,000.
“The grant will help maintain our K-9 unit to better serve our community,” Pekin police wrote in a Facebook post announcing the results. “We would like to thank everyone who voted and are thrilled by the support of not only our immediate community, but those who supported us nationally.”
On the strength of its social media campaigning, Pekin outpaced departments from New Mexico and Georgia, who finished second and third, respectively. The Avon Police Department – based in a town of approximately 800 people in western Illinois – finished fourth nationally.
The Aftermath grant program is in its sixth year, according to the company. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s trio of K-9s was the winner in 2015.
“Aftermath would like to thank everyone who voted, shared and participated in this year’s event. The more knowledgeable people are about these amazing animals and their contributions, the easier it is for departments to ensure that they have the support needed to keep their K9 units healthy and safe,” Aftermath stated in a blog post releasing the grant recipients. “The success of this grant is a direct reflection of each and every one of you,”