Photos by Darrin Phegley
At the Henderson Police Department, there are workers that come in all shapes and sizes. Some of those workers do not fit the typical standard for an officer, but they work hard all the same. One of these nontraditional workers is a 3-year-old German Shephard named Kari, who works with his partner, Officer Michael Langston. Kari is trained in tracking and apprehension of suspects, detection of narcotics, and obedience and agility. Kari has put his life on the line for our community since 2018, and unfortunately, he did so without a ballistic vest to protect him. Now, Kari’s situation has changed, and he is all geared up, thanks to Independence Bank.
The Donation Process
Independence Bank has donated $500 towards a modular ballistic vest for Kari that has a value of $800. Other community members chipped in to cover the rest of the cost to keep Kari safe in the line of duty. This idea came to fruition through Administrative Assistant, Donna Robbins, who learned about an initiative in Evansville to outfit K-9 units with ballistic vests. Donna learned about this initiative through her husband, Tim, and passed the idea along to Independence Bank in an effort to secure one of these vests for Henderson. This initiative is spearheaded by Jessica Hewig, a St. Joe Veterinary Hospital Care Specialist, who quickly responded and agreed to help get a vest for Kari.
Independence Bank Gives Back
The idea to get Kari a vest was met with great interest back at the bank. As Jim Davis, Independence Bank President, said, “Finding ways to serve our community is what we do.” Those involved with this project, including Officer Langston, Kari, and Jessica, sat down with Jim and others at Independence Bank and explained the importance of getting Kari a vest. “The vests can become a secondary thought because they are benefitting an animal but working with our K-9s every day, we understand their dedication and importance. It’s especially encouraging these days when the community comes together to show support for our officers,” said Sergeant Kyle Stone. Jim Davis agreed, and added that “These dogs don’t know how to assess danger. They are vulnerable to attacks, and they don’t have a lot of defense. They don’t know how to be cautious when someone has a knife or a gun, so they need as much protection as they can get.”
Kelsey Hargis, Community Enrichment Officer at Independence Bank, was also a large part of the process to obtain this vest. Kelsey was pleased that the bank was able to provide this equipment and is proud to help her community. “We didn’t just write a check, we made a friend in Kari and in Officer Langston. This was a donation for the books and one that we will proudly remember every time we see Kari helping to keep our hometown that much safer. We are grateful to the community partners who worked with us to make it happen.”
Kari now has his vest, which was presented to him on August 26. “It relieves a lot of stress and anxiety for me knowing that Kari has a vest protecting him,” said Officer Michael Langston. Jessica Hewig continues to fundraise and identify needs in surrounding counties for K-9 vests. We can only hope that her efforts are successful and that more dogs like Kari will get the protection they need. With businesses like Independence Bank around, we can be sure that our community will continue to be bettered by their mission.
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