What is the Purpose of Great Barrington’s Comfort Dog Program?
As you may have heard, sad news was released last week from Great Barrington Police Chief Paul Storti, that their canine comfort dog, Officer Beko passed away. You can get more details about Beko's passing by going here.
On a recent edition of the WSBS program 'Let's Talk' we spoke with Chief Storti and he told us about the comfort dog program. Here's what the chief had to say about continuing the program:
The Great Barrington Police Department is the first police department in Berkshire County to have the comfort dog program. The program is a big success and even though we lost Officer Beko I'm still dedicated to the program and I just want to let the community know that we are continuing it and we will be moving forward. We've had alot of outreach from people offering to donate another dog to help us continue to the program. It's been great...the support that we've received.
In addition, anyone who isn't familiar with what the comfort dog program is, Chief Storti filled us in with the details of the program's purpose, how it works and why the police department has enacted it. Here's what he had to say:
Sometimes there are people that would be apprehensive to come up and have a conversation with a police officer, so this program gives us a tool for the person to come up to the police officer and see the dog and it gives the officer an opportunity to start a conversation with the community member. Additionally, it gave us some support in time of need or crisis to try to help deescalate a situation and give comfort to the first responders. We've had people after a tough call come in and just hang out with Beko and help take their mind off of what they just dealt with. The program really serves so many different valuable purposes.
Officer Beko helped make the comfort dog program a success. Here's what Chief Storti had to say about the success of the program:
After we started the program, within a few months, Beko, not only in Great Barrington, but he offered services to other schools in other communities to the point where he became a celebrity in some aspects. Other police departments from other states reached out to us to get information on our program as they were looking to add a similar program to their department. It was great to see the success of the program not just across Berkshire County but across the country.
We look forward to finding out who the new canine officer for the comfort dog program will be and we will have Chief Storti back on the air in the coming weeks with an update.