Retired Pocono Mountain Regional Police K-9 dies

By Staff Report - Pocono Record
December 24, 2013

A retired K-9 police dog with the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department died Saturday.
The death of 11-year-old German Shepherd Kane comes a few months after the death of retired K-9 Flip. Kane retired from the department in 2010 and was living with Cpl. Matt Nero and new K-9 Niko.
Kane was cross-trained in patrol, tracking and narcotics. With Nero, he helped with hundreds of seizures of controlled substances and vehicles worth more than $1 million and with the arrests of more than 200 people for drug-related offenses, the department said.
But to Nero, he was also a loyal family dog, faithful guardian and friend.
“It's the bond. You can't explain it, you feel it,” Nero said Tuesday. “It's everywhere you go. I call it the sword by my side.”
Nero's voice choked with tears as he remembered Kane.
“A part of me just left with him,” he said.
Nero also wrote a poem for Kane, whom he called a “bloodhound” in his ability to track people and a “buddy” both on and off the job.

"His Name is Kane"
To you it's just a name;
to me it's a story of bravery and fame.
It started in '03; a shepherd was brought to me
I bravely wore the badge and carried the gun,
but this little part of history was one hell of a run.
I have fought many battles
and have seen people die.
Night time has brought me horror
but I'm safe with Kane by my side.
It's 2 a.m. patrolling the beat
shots ring out with suspects on feet.
A single round in a cop was found.
“Dispatch Kane!” We're inbound.
It's time to go Kane with you I'm brave.
We've gotta find these criminals
for a cop's life to save.
I have seen grown men cry and children die.
I've been the face of the grim reaper,
at the door with families asking why.
I see Kane give that look of bravery afoot.
A novel they will write
A classic book
When you ask me to tell the story of courage and fame...
I will start by telling you:
His Name is Kane

 

Pocono Mountain Regional Police announce death of K-9 Flip



September 03, 2013 1:49 PM

Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis announced this afternoon the death of the department's retired K-9, Flip.
He served with PMPRD and with Officer Joe Lutkowski from 2002-10.
Flip was 12.5 years old.
"On behalf of the entire PMRPD family, we wish to thank Flip for his years of dedicated service with PMRPD and for our community," Lewis said. "On behalf of Flip, we wish to thank all of the people in the community for their support of our K-9 Program."

 

 

Pocono Police Conduct Aggressive Driver Patrol

March 20, 2013
Pocono Mountain Regional Police took to the streets to seek out aggressive drivers with a saturation patrol on Wednesday, and a Pocono Record reporter and photographer rode along.
Many drivers with a penchant for speed were cited, as well as a driver allegedly driving under the influence.
A search of another car pulled over for speeding uncovered drug paraphernalia.
Citations for expired registration and inspections were also issued.

- Pocono Record

 

Cops still probing double-murder in Coolbaugh Township

August 22, 2012
Pocono Mountain Regional Police are still investigating the murders last week of two Stroud Township men found shot to death in Coolbaugh Township.
"We're continuing to follow leads and examine evidence," Police Chief Harry Lewis said.
Related Stories
• One victim's head smashed with rock in Coolbaugh double murder
• Double shooting in Coolbaugh Township
• Update: Coolbaugh Township double shooting victims identified
An officer on patrol found the bodies of Bertoldo Velez, 55, and Joseph King Jr., 38, both of Penn Estates, early Friday morning in the parking area of Coolbaugh Township Park off Route 423, across from Tobyhanna Army Depot.
King was in the front passenger seat of Velez's 1997 Chevy Cavalier, while Velez was lying on the ground beside the car. Both men had been shot multiple times and an autopsy on Velez later revealed he had been smashed in the head with a rock, said Monroe County Coroner Bob Allen.
Allen said all bullet casings found at the scene came from a .45-caliber handgun and estimated the men had been killed sometime late Thursday night.
Both men were neighbors and worked at United Envelope, which makes envelopes, in Mount Pocono. Velez bundled waste paper while King, who had just become the father of a weeks-old baby, operated a forklift truck handling materials.
Police ask that anyone with information contact them at 570-895-2400.

- Pocono Record

 

One victim's head smashed with rock in Coolbaugh double murder

Emergency responders place the body of Bertoldo Velez in a body bag on Friday at Coolbaugh Township Park.David Kidwell/Pocono Record

By Chad Smith
Pocono Record Writer
August 19, 2012

One of the two Stroud Township men found shot to death Friday in Coolbaugh Township also had his head smashed with a rock, the Monroe County coroner reported Saturday.
Coroner Bob Allen released the results Saturday of an autopsy conducted on Bertoldo Velez, 55, and Joseph N. King Jr., 38, both of Penn Estates.
Related Stories
• Cops still probing double-murder in Coolbaugh Township
The two were found with Velez's 1997 Chevy Cavalier in a lot at Coolbaugh Township Park. King was in the passenger seat. Velez was lying on the ground beside the car.
Both died from the multiple gunshot wounds. Allen said that a rock had been smashed on Velez's head, causing massive trauma. The rock was found nearby. Allen said that even if the rock hadn't struck Velez, the bullet wounds he sustained would have killed him. Allen couldn't say whether Velez was struck before or after he was shot.
Allen said that all the bullet casings at the scene were from a .45-caliber handgun. He said the crime occurred within a matter of seconds.
The autopsy Saturday was conducted at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
The bodies of the victims were found by a Pocono Mountain Regional Police officer on routine patrol early Friday in the park, off Route 423 in Tobyhanna.
The men were neighbors and worked at United Envelope Co. in the Mount Pocono Industrial Park, working a 7 a.m.-to-7 p.m. shift, according to Allen.
For an unknown reason, they drove to the parking lot Thursday off Route 423 near a ballfield. Allen believes a confrontation occurred sometime before 10 p.m.
No arrests have been made in the case. Pocono Mountain Regional Police are leading the investigation with the Monroe County District Attorney's Office and state police.

 

 

 

By Andrew Scott
Pocono Record Writer
August 15, 2012
http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120815/NEWS/208150325

Call it a fist of furry.
A man accused of violating a restraining order ran from officers Monday night and then punched a police dog.
But the dog won, and the man is now in jail, Pocono Mountain Regional Police said.
Jean M. Philogene, 37, of New York, was placed in Monroe County Correctional Facility in lieu of $5,000 bail, charged with illegally taunting a police animal (punching the police dog), fleeing/trying to elude police and other offenses.
Police give the following account:
Police were called Monday to the Devon Road, Pocono Farms East, Coolbaugh Township home of a woman who had a protection from abuse order against Philogene. Officers learned he had fled prior to their arrival.
Police were called back at 11:08 p.m., and found Philogene's van parked in a driveway a few houses away from the woman's home, but he was not in or near the vehicle. A short time later, he returned to his van and left the driveway.
When police tried to stop Philogene's van, he swerved at a police car, forcing it off the road. He then turned off his headlights and fled.
Police spotted Philogene's van a short time later in the area of Kings Way and Route 196. He ran the red light at that intersection, but police did not pursue him due to the speed and location of roads in the neighborhood.
A short time later, police found Philogene's van abandoned in a front yard nearby and called police dog Niko to the scene.
Niko initially could not track Philogene, but the Monroe County Control Center then told police a male wearing all black was trying to flag down vehicles in the area of Route 196 and Green Road.
Police found Philogene in that area and, after he refused to obey their commands to stop, let loose Niko.
As Philogene was being chased by Niko, he punched the dog in the head, but was apprehended soon afterward by Niko and police.
Philogene later was treated at Pocono Medical Center for back injuries and then placed in Monroe County Correctional Facility. He will appear in district court at a future date.
Niko was not reported to have any injuries.

 

 

July 27, 2012

Kids get close-up look at Pocono Mountain police work
http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120727/NEWS/207270359&cid=sitesearch

 

Detective Rich Lutke from Pocono Mountain Regional Police, right, shows Mary Evervale, 15, of Freeland, front, and other kids in the Camp Cadet program a close-up look at the vehicle his SWAT team uses. Hundreds of kids across the state age 12 to 15 have spent this week in the Pennsylvania State Police's annual summer camp program. The camp introduces kids to law enforcement officers and focuses on discipline, self-esteem and drug and alcohol education. Campers in Troop N's program, photographed here Thursday evening, spent the week at the Penn State campus in Hazelton.
David Kidwell/Pocono Record


July 27, 2012
Detective Rich Lutke from Pocono Mountain Regional Police gives Mary Evervale, 15, of Freeland, front left, and other kids in the Camp Cadet program a close-up look at the vehicle his SWAT team uses. Hundreds of kids across the state, age 12 to 15, have spent this week in the Pennsylvania State Police annual summer camp program. The camp introduces kids to law enforcement officers and focuses on discipline, self-esteem and drug and alcohol

 



March 20, 2012

Pocono Mountain Regional Police hope to be next reality TV stars

Georgia Hilton, one of the producers of the new reality show featuring Pocono Mountain Regional Police, films an interview with Chief Harry Lewis, left, as he gets a visit from Cpl. Matt Nero and K-9 officer Niko on Monday.Melissa Evanko/Pocono Record

 

By Michael Sadowski
Pocono Record Writer
http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=%2F20120320%2FNEWS%2F203200315
March 20, 2012

Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis has said since he was hired in 2008 that he wanted to raise revenue for his cash-strapped department.
So when one fundraising plan came along recently — no matter how unorthodox it may sound — Lewis was ready to listen. The result could be television cameras taping every move officers make, as the department has agreed to let its officers be shadowed for a possible reality TV program.

Cameras have been preliminarily taping the department for about two weeks, getting enough footage to shop the idea to television networks interested in airing a behind-the-scenes look at the department.

"We don't need TV to validate what a great job our officers do," Lewis said. "But I think it's an interesting story here. We do a lot with a little. And it's something we can use to generate revenue."

Revenue is something the department is looking for since it had to lay off two officers at the start of the year in a contentious budget battle.
It's not known what kind of windfall the department could see if the show ever makes it to the air.
"That's far down the road," Lewis said. "One thing at a time."

Right now the project is completely up in the air. Producers film hours of footage around the department, then put together a five-minute demonstration they will take to television network executives to sell the show.

If the executives like what they see, they can order more footage to be filmed and turned into a show. If the networks like what they see then, they can buy the show for possible airing.

The idea came about when one of the show's producers, Joseph Mazzilli, spoke at the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department fundraiser in October. Mazzilli, a former New York City detective, has been a producer on previous television police-based reality shows, including "Runaway Squad" on A&E.
He had been trying to put together a new reality show, one he doesn't believe has been done on TV before — to show the inner workings of a police department.

"You see 'Cops' and it's guys out on the street breaking down doors," he said. "That's not what cops always are. There are more to cops than that. We want to show the human side of cops in this. I think there are TV networks that would be very interested in a show like that."
Mazzilli told his producing partner, Georgia Hilton, about the department and how he believed there was a show there. Hilton said she was convinced as well after she observed the department.

"It's a small-town department doing big-city things," she said. "There are a lot of aspects to this show that would make it interesting to people and to television networks."

Mazzilli said A&E and the Discovery networks are two places he believes where he can sell the show.
Hilton said one of the things that attracted her to this project was the good it could do for the community by infusing some money back into the department.
"If we can help keep cops on the street, then I'm all for it," she said.

 

Police Departments

-by Pocono Record
February 28, 2012
Which police department patrols my area?

A combination of local and regional police departments and state police stations cover Monroe County.

The Stroud Area Regional Police Department (421-6800) covers Stroudsburg, East Stroudsburg and Stroud Township.

The Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department (839-7676) covers Coolbaugh, Tobyhanna and Tunkhannock townships and Mount Pocono.

Both regional departments have commissions that hold monthly public meetings where residents can voice any concerns about their police coverage.

The two full-time, non-regionalized police departments are Barrett Township (595-3476) and Pocono Township (629-7323).

Delaware Water Gap has the county's only part-time police department (421-2323).

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Ranger Station's number is (908) 841-9520.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Department number is 420-3683.

Three Pennsylvania State Police stations share coverage of Monroe County.

The Swiftwater station (839-7701 or 866-403-2946) covers Hamilton, Middle Smithfield, Smithfield, Paradise and Price townships.

Swiftwater also patrols Interstate 80, from the New Jersey border to the Interstate 380 split, and from I-380 to the Wayne County line.

The Fern Ridge station (646-2271) covers Chestnuthill and Jackson townships and patrols I-80, from the I-380 split to the Carbon County line.

The Lehighton station (610-377-4270 or 866-400-8084) covers Eldred, Polk and Ross townships.

Neighboring Pike County, along with Interstate 84, is covered by the Blooming Grove station (226-5718 or 5719).

 

Pocono Mountain police accredited by state
by Andrew Scott, POCONO RECORD

harry

To purchase a reprint of this photo, go to
www.PoconoRecord.com/photostore.

 

July 15, 2011
The Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department has become the first police department in Monroe County and third regional police department in the state to become accredited by the state, Chief Harry Lewis said.

To become accredited, a department must show it has established policies covering about 140 standards of best policing practices, Lewis said.

"I am very proud of our officers and staff," Lewis said. "I am grateful that the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Commission saw how important this goal was and supported us throughout the entire process."

The commission consists of representatives appointed by Mount Pocono and Coolbaugh, Tobyhanna and Tunkhannock townships, the four municipalities the department serves.

The department enrolled in the statewide accreditation program three years ago.

"The program was designed and developed by professional law enforcement executives to provide a reasonable and cost-effective plan for the professionalization of law enforcement agencies within the Commonwealth," Lewis said. "This leads to better accountability and reduces liability.

"Not only did we have to draft and implement all of the required policies, but have the officers trained," he said. "All of the policies were reviewed and approved by our police commission throughout the process. The department was required to have at least two proofs of compliance for each of the 140 standards."

The department underwent extensive assessments of its policies and procedures by three independent members of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association over a two-day period in June.

"We modeled the best policing practices to further our professionalism and accountability to our elected officials and community," Lewis said. "This gave us a solid foundation to build upon for further progress."

The assessors presented a report to the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Association, which then granted accreditation status to the department during an awards ceremony at Wednesday's Chiefs of Police Association meeting. Lewis and department accreditation manager Chris Wagner accepted the award.

The department is part of the accredited 6 percent of the state's 1,200 law enforcement agencies, Lewis said.

Andrew Scott

 

Pocono Mountain police beef up their hardware with new armored vehicle
April 13, 2011 12:00 AM

Robert G. Werts, program manager for the Northeast Pennsylvania Regional Counter-Terrorism Task Force, takes the department's new armored vehicle for a ride.

To purchase a reprint of this photo, go to
www.PoconoRecord.com/photostore.
Adam Richins/Pocono Record



Pocono Mountain Regional Police Lt. Chris Wagner walks around a Lenco Bearcat Armored Rescue Vehicle in the parking lot of the Monroe County Public Safety Center in Snydersville on Tuesday.

To purchase a reprint of this photo, go to
www.PoconoRecord.com/photostore.
Adam Richins/Pocono Record


Pocono Mountain Regional Police Lt. Chris Wagner showed off the department's new Lenco Bearcat Armored Rescue Vehicle in the parking lot of the Monroe County Public Safety Center in Snydersville on Tuesday.
The 9-ton vehicle cost $287,000 and was obtained for Pocono Mountain Regional through Homeland Security grant funds. The vehicle can be used in crisis incidents including natural disasters, terrorism, civil unrest, hazardous spills and standoffs.
The vehicle is the first of its kind in the area. 'It's a sad fact of life that this type of vehicle is needed here,' Werts said.

 

 

 

Sign of the times: Pocono Mountain police seeking donations to fill budget gap

Non-profit hopes to raise money for department

Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department Chief Harry Lewis shows the computer used in the department's patrol cars. Lewis is hoping to upgrade the computers in the near future.

To purchase a reprint of this photo, go to
www.PoconoRecord.com/photostore.

Melissa Evanko/Pocono Record

 

By Michael Sadowski
Pocono Record Writer
August 17, 2010 12:00 AM

With some mountain communities already worried about meeting their 2011 budgets, the writing is on the wall.

Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department Chief Harry Lewis can read it clearly.

With the department constantly in need of updated equipment to keep citizens and its officers safe-- and the municipalities that fund it with less money to pay for the updates-- the department has formed the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Foundation as a non-profit group to raise money.

The money would be spent on items and programs the department deems necessary, but may not fit into the yearly budget.

"We never want to lower our ability to police, or suffer because of the economic times," said Lewis, the president of the foundation. "We had to find additional funding streams without putting the burden on the taxpayer."

The foundation, formed officially by the department's commission in June, will have its kick-off event Oct. 16-17 with a golf tournament and reception at Mount Airy Casino Resort and a 5K run.

Lewis hopes the two-day fundraiser can generate $100,000 in sponsorships and donations, enough to start community programs and upgrade old equipment.

The department cannot actively raise funds without the 501(c)3 non-profit status the foundation brings. It received its seed money to start with a donation from the Mattiolli Foundation, Lewis said.

PMRP covers Mount Pocono and Coolbaugh, Tobyhanna and Tunkhannock townships.

Already this year, Mount Pocono and Coolbaugh have scheduled early budget meetings to discuss how to meet their 2011 budgets.

That's a sure sign that local municipalities likely won't have money to contribute when the police ask for new or updated items.

Lewis said updating equipment isn't just about having the newest technology, it's to allow officers to work more efficiently so that the department doesn't have to go through the expense of hiring extra officers-- even though he wants extra staff.

"No one is hiring any additional officers this year or anytime soon, we know that," Lewis said. "So we want to give our officers the technology to make them work more efficiently."

The foundation isn't the first in the region. The Stroud Area Regional Police Commission Foundation, also a non-profit organization, raises money for special areas of department needs.

In the past, it has raised money for upgrades to police car technology and remote cameras within its jurisdiction.

Lewis said that helped give him the idea for the foundation for his department. With money received, Lewis said he wants to start community programs like a gun buy-back, a youth summer camp, high school scholarships and community emergency notification systems.

He also said the computer systems in 18 of the department's police cruisers need updating, a job that could cost around $70,000.

The community programs are the key, Lewis said, because it may go a long way to build a community in the region.

The foundation's vice president is former PMRP Chief John Lamberton, secretary is Tobyhanna Township Supervisor Jamie Keener and treasurer is Tunkhannock Township Supervisor Fran DePiano.

 

Police announce arrests near Mount Pocono carnival
August 03, 2010 7:28 AM

The Pocono Mountain Regional utilized a proactive patrol strategy to deter and detect criminal activity and make arrests in or around the Mount Pocono Carnival during the week of July 25-31.

Police deployed combinations of teams of undercover and uniformed officers to foot patrol, mountain bike patrol, K-9 patrol and undercover narcotics patrol. This proactive strategy led to the following arrests were made mostly outside the carnival grounds preventing the illegal activity to enter the carnival premises making the carnival a safer family environment.

Police said more than half of the arrests it made near a popular carnival were juveniles.

Police made 34 arrests at the Pocono Mountain Carnival, which ran from July 25 to its closing on Saturday, and 18 of the people police took into custody were juveniles.

The arrests included 19 charges of disorderly conduct, 10 underage drinking charges and five marijuana possession charges. Three of the disorderly conduct charges, all against juveniles, stem from fights, police said.

The age range of those arrested was from 14 to 22.

Police said all of the incidents they listed happened on or near the festival grounds on Route 611 in Mount Pocono.

--Pocono Record.com

 

 

Pocono Mountain Regional Police Use Traffic Stops to Catch Drug Traffickers

By Beth Brelje
Pocono Record Writer
September 10, 2008 6:00 AM

It's not too bright to drive around with drugs in your car, especially in the Pocono Mountain Regional Police's neighborhood. The officers in that department have a knack for making every traffic stop count.

Early Tuesday morning, officers stopped a Jaguar driven by Ryan Martin, 20, of East Stroudsburg for traffic violations. Kendal Edwards, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was also in the car on Kings Way in Tobyhanna.

While speaking with Edwards and Martin, police noticed marijuana in plain view inside the vehicle, according to a police report. A search of the Jaguar and the car's owner, Martin, revealed more marijuana, cash, and tools of the drug trade: packaging material and a digital scale.

Police seized the car and contents. Charges are pending further investigation, and will be filed through District Magisterial Judge Anthony Fluegel's office.

It is the latest of many traffic-stop-turned-drug-busts for Pocono Mountain Regional Police.

"Our criminals here are very transient. We tell our guys to be proactive," said Chief Harry Lewis. "At every traffic stop, continue to investigate. See if there is any other criminal activity afoot. Our officers are good at talking to people."

Lewis has a strong drug enforcement background. He was a criminal investigator for many years and was the coordinator for the Monroe County Drug Task Force until he became chief in January 2008.

"Over 80 percent of all crime is drug related. Many of our officers have received training in drug-criminal interdiction," Lewis said.

Street corner drug trade is uncommon in Lewis' jurisdiction, simply because there are few street corners. Drug transactions happen, often directly from a vehicle, in the parking lots of stores and restaurants. Dealers and buyers feel more comfortable making transactions in public than in their homes. Cash and inventory is carried with the dealer much of the time to prevent theft by other dealers.

Police often initiate conversations with people who are suspiciously parked to gauge how they will react.

Lewis says interstates 80 and 380 are major drug corridors for dealers traveling from New Jersey to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Hazelton. Some dealers take Route 115 to avoid state police.

The street value of drugs in the Poconos is unusually high, making the area ripe for sales. Some dealers come to the Poconos for the weekend, stay with friends, and leave a few thousand dollars richer.

In New York City, a gram of cocaine, about the size of a sugar packet, can be purchased in bulk for $20 a pack. In the Poconos, that gram is going for $75 to $100, according to police.

Marijuana in the city goes for between $400 and $500 a pound, depending on the quality. The Pocono price is between $1,200 and $2,000 a pound. In New York, $4 buys a bag (less than a gram) of heroin. The same amount in the Poconos is moving for $25 a bag.

"Heroin really is starting to rear its ugly head. The quality is very good and the price very low," Lewis said. "A lot of heroin is coming from North Jersey."

Police have found drugs hidden in most hollow spaces in a vehicle and disturbingly, "in their person, if you know what I mean," Lewis said.

Last month, Pocono Mountain Regional Police Cpl. Matt Nero and his partner Kane, a narcotics detection dog, found crack cocaine hidden in a pair of boots during a traffic stop.

Drugs are everywhere, not just on the road. "Our officers know there is a bigger picture. They don't go to a domestic and just leave," Lewis said.

This week police returned to a Mount Pocono apartment, where they had previously been called for a non-criminal incident, based on an officer's observations. A search of the apartment turned up at least 50 marijuana plants, according to a police report.

Despite all the drugs being removed from circulation, police cannot do it alone.

"It's supply and demand. We can take drugs off the street, but if there's still a demand, we are not going to stop the problem," said Lewis. "Parents need to get involved with their kids. And rehab does work."


Caught in Traffic

Items confiscated during crimes, often cars during drug busts, are sold through Monroe County's Controller's Office. Sometimes county vehicles are also sold in the process. Sales happen randomly as inventory grows. The last one was in March. The current batch of vehicles must be bid on by Sept. 25.

Through the years, Monroe County has sold luxury models including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac Escalade. Vehicles vary greatly in condition.

To bid on the current crop of cars, contact the county controller and ask for a bid packet. Money raised by the sale of vehicles confiscated through drug offenses goes to the Monroe County Drug Task Force.

Vehicles and vehicles parts currently up for bid:

  • 1994 Mercury Tracer
  • 1996 Chrysler New Yorker
  • 1996 Mercury Tracer
  • 2000 Chevy Impala
  • 1990 Chevy Cavalier
  • 1991 Toyota Celica GT
  • 2005 Honda Accord
  • 1984 Dodge Ram 350
  • 1997 Honda Accord SE
  • 2002 Kawasaki Motorcycle
  • 1995 Nissan Maxima
  • 1997 Ford Expedition
  • 2008 Ford F350 Bumper and Tailgate
  • TRAC VAC 5 HP Briggs & Straton gasoline engine lawn vacuum system

 

October 7, 2009 POCONO RECORD:

ADAM RICHINS/Pocono Record

Pocono Mountain Regional Police Officer Joe Lutkowski and Flip search a car for drugs or explosives in a training exercise.
ADAM RICHINS/Pocono Record

ADAM RICHINS/Pocono Record
Pocono Mountain Regional Police Officer Joe Lutkowski stands with Flip, a 9-year old German shepard, who is soon to retire. The team worked together for 8 years.

After eight years, Pocono Mountain canine cop Flip nears retirement
By Beth Brelje
Pocono Record Writer
October 07, 2009 12:00 AM

POCONO SUMMIT -- His only paycheck is a wrapped-up towel.

Flip, the patrol and explosives canine at Pocono Mountain Regional Police department, lives for a game of towel-tug-of-war with his handler, Officer Joe Lutkowski. The game is a reward when the dog finds a bomb or a missing person.

Flip, Lutkowski's first work dog, has been in service for eight years and is nearing retirement. Retirement is also on the horizon for the department's other dog, 6-year-old Kane, a patrol and drug canine handled by Officer Matt Nero.

The dogs are important law enforcement tools used for finding people and things. At the end of the shift, these tools don't get put in a locker. Police dogs go home with their handlers.

Off duty, Flip is like any other German shepherd. "I've got that bond with him like you would with a family member. If I leave to go to the store, my wife says Flip sits at the back door until I come home," Lutkowski said.

Flip has never missed a day of work.

"From the time I grab my gun belt, he's all fired up. He gets all excited because he knows he is going to work and it's fun. Everything we do is a game."

The back of Lutkowski's patrol car is customized for Flip. The seat is removed, there is a rubber mat on the floor and a cage insert defines Flip's place.

A heat sensor monitors the temperature in the car. If things get too warm, the windows automatically roll down and the siren sounds to alert Lutkowski, in case he is away from the car.

A remote control on Lutkowski's belt pops Flip's door open. "When the door opens, it's all business," Lutkowski said. "Flip is trained to come to me." Even when Lutkowski is out of sight, for example, on the other side of a house covering a door, Flip finds him fast.

The team once responded to a burglary in progress at a Coolbaugh Township home. Two burglars kicked in the door to the home. Following procedure, Lutkowski called out to the suspects three times to warn them he had a dog before releasing Flip into the building. By the third announcement, Flip starts barking.

In this case, Flip searched the first floor, and then started up the stairs to the loft. "The kids gave up. They didn't want to get bit. Most people give up," Lutkowski said.

Another time police were in a car pursuit of a man wanted for a felony drug warrant. His car got stuck in a ditch, so he fled on foot into the woods. The trail was fresh when Lutkowski and Flip arrived, and Flip found a scent. "He was pulling me because it was a fresh track."

They followed the track for two miles. "Flip located him buried under a bush. I would have walked right by him." The fugitive gave up and was taken into custody.

If a track crosses over itself, Flip can determine which scent is newer.

It is not just criminals. Flip and Lutkowski helped find an elderly woman who walked off. She was found sleeping in a vehicle.

Dogs have scent discrimination. If a human and a dog walk into a pizza parlor, the person will smell pizza but the dog would smell cheese, tomato and oregano separately. That is why hiding drugs in, say, coffee does not fool drug-detection dogs, Lutkowski said.

Flip specializes in explosives. While narcotics dogs are trained to scratch at a find, explosives dogs sit to signal a find, so nothing is disturbed.

What happens to retired police dogs? "Flip is going to be staying with me," Lutkowski said. "Some departments don't let handlers keep them. I couldn't give him up."

One day soon, Lutkowski will put on his gun belt and, for the first time, Flip will stay home.

"I've been thinking about that day. They say your first dog is special."

Lutkowski will get another work dog when Flip retires. "I'll look back in the car and it won't be Flip. It's going to be tough"

http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091007/NEWS/910070334/-1/rss01

 

 

 

October 20, 2008 POCONO RECORD:

Photo: ADAM RICHINS/pocono record


Pocono Power Broker: Chief Harry Lewis
Pocono Mountain Regional Police chief just one man on 40-member force
October 20, 2008 6:00 AM

Chief Harry Lewis, who heads the Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department, views himself as being with, not above, those who serve on that force.

"That's why, even though I'm chief, my uniform is the same as the officers serving under me," Lewis said.
Operating on a $5.6 million budget, the 40-member police force covers a 200-square-mile area in Tobyhanna, Tunkhannock and Coolbaugh townships and Mount Pocono. The area includes Pocono Mountain Raceway in Tunkhannock Township, which on two weekends every year makes Monroe County the state's third largest in population with the number of people coming to the races.
Lewis, 38, a married father of three, is a graduate of Stroudsburg High School, Shippensburg University and the police academy in Allentown. Having served on the police force since 1993, he also led the county Drug Task Force from 1994 until the start of this year, when county District Attorney's Detective Eric Kirchner became task force coordinator.
Here's what Lewis has to say about being in charge of the local police department that serves the largest area in the county and his experiences with the Drug Task Force.

Pocono Record: What inspired you to choose a law enforcement career?
Harry Lewis: I'm the first in my family to go into law enforcement. I researched this field while in college. What appeals to me is that it's not a 9-to-5, sit-behind-a-desk job. It involves action, which is good for me since I've played sports and always been physically active. But, it's not just the adrenaline rush. It's the camaraderie, knowing you're part of a team.
I've gone from patrol officer to detective, to detective sergeant to lieutenant and now chief. I've been lucky to have experiences in all aspects of police work that have made me more well-rounded and prepared me for a position of leadership.

PR: What's the biggest challenge of covering an area that size with the manpower you have?
HL: We have a hard-working staff. We're dealing not only with the volume of individual calls, but the amount of time we spend investigating each of those calls.
While dealing with the common and not-so-common situations we come across every day, we have two unsolved murder cases we're still investigating. One is the case of Lee Vanluvender, the hunter who was found shot to death in Tunkhannock Township last December. The other is Edwin Morales, who was found shot to death in his vehicle in Mount Pocono back in 2005.
So, yes, we keep pretty busy.

PR: Are there any concerns about police coverage in A Pocono Country Place as a gated community?
HL: We're working actively with APCP to start enforcing traffic violations in that community. The law allows us to do so in residential communities covering more than 10 contiguous acres. We also plan to maintain a more visible police presence in the development.

PR: Do you find a majority of the crimes being committed by transplants or locals?
HL: It's a mixture of transients, people who've recently moved here, people born and raised here and people whose families have lived in the area for generations. Obviously, as the population continues to increase, so likely will the number of crimes reported.
What bothers me, though, is the attitude some longtime area residents have toward people, mostly those from the city, who haven't been living here as long. It's always good to support and take pride in the area you've lived in for a long time, but not to the point where there's a certain prejudicial attitude toward newcomers. That contributes to community tension and unrest. Likewise, some from the city bring a certain attitude with them that adds to the tension.
This area is experiencing growing pains and some challenges are to be expected. But at some point, we all need to realize there are good and bad in all demographics and try to get along better with each other.

PR: In your experience, what's key in leading an effective Drug Task Force?
HL: We tell our officers to look beyond the traffic stop when they pull over vehicles. See who's in the car and where they're going. Do a background check. A noticeable number of drug busts have come from traffic stops. We make drug arrests every week, but not every arrest is publicized like the major drug busts are.

PR: What's the most common drug being sold in the area?
HL: There's no one drug being sold more than the others, though we have seen a spike in the number of cases involving illegally obtained prescription drugs. We haven't really noticed methamphetamine here yet. Heroin is cheaper than it's ever been. We've seen heroin users as young as 12 and as old as 60.
I view addiction as more of a medical issue than a criminal one. We have to treat the demand side of it and there's a huge demand up here on the Mountain.
We've noticed an increase in the number of crimes that in some way involve drugs. Some might say this doesn't apply to marijuana. While some will argue whether or not that's true, you have to remember that the joint you smoke came from an ounce of weed, which came from a pound of weed, which came from a bail of weed. And a border patrol or other law enforcement agent could have gotten killed over that bail. Because marijuana, harmless or not, is still illegal.

PR: What's the scariest situation you've ever been in?
HL: We were with a special response team engaged in a gunfight with Steven Johnson. This was on April 25, 2003, in Tunkhannock Township. Johnson had just had a domestic situation with his girlfriend. She had escaped and he had barricaded himself inside the residence and was firing at us. He was fatally wounded.

PR: What changes do you see coming in the department?
HL: I see us gaining 20 more officers in the next 10 years. I also want to bring about a greater focus on community policing and partnering on more community outreach programs. We want to work more closely with local neighborhood crime-watch groups and have more events where we educate residents on how to be safer.

PR: What steps if any are you taking to recruit more women and minority police officers?
HL: We're expanding our outreach efforts and advertising at colleges and universities. We're expanding our eligibility list to include a more diverse applicant pool. We have an extensive hiring process with stringent criteria. The process involves written and physical tests, background and medical history checks and two sets of interviews.

 

Interviewed by Pocono Record writer Andrew Scott

He's a sports fan too
Favorite sports: Football, baseball and NASCAR twice a year.

Favorite teams: Eagles, Phillies.

Personal philosophy: Treat others the way you and your family would want to be treated.

September 10, 2008 POCONO RECORD:

Pocono Mountain Regional Police use traffic stops to catch drug traffickers
By Beth Brelje
Pocono Record Writer
September 10, 2008

Items confiscated by Pocono Mountain Regional Police during a March 3 traffic stop on Route 940. Driver Harold Smith, 41, of Mount Pocono, was allegedly found with crack cocaine, cocaine, marijuana, OxyContin, scales and $3,200. Police said the drugs have a street value of more than $8,000. --PMRP photo

 


It's not too bright to drive around with drugs in your car, especially in the Pocono Mountain Regional Police's neighborhood. The officers in that department have a knack for making every traffic stop count.

Early Tuesday morning, officers stopped a Jaguar driven by Ryan Martin, 20, of East Stroudsburg for traffic violations. Kendal Edwards, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was also in the car on Kings Way in Tobyhanna.

While speaking with Edwards and Martin, police noticed marijuana in plain view inside the vehicle, according to a police report. A search of the Jaguar and the car's owner, Martin, revealed more marijuana, cash, and tools of the drug trade: packaging material and a digital scale.

Police seized the car and contents. Charges are pending further investigation, and will be filed through District Magisterial Judge Anthony Fluegel's office.

It is the latest of many traffic-stop-turned-drug-busts for Pocono Mountain Regional Police.

"Our criminals here are very transient. We tell our guys to be proactive," said Chief Harry Lewis. "At every traffic stop, continue to investigate. See if there is any other criminal activity afoot. Our officers are good at talking to people."

Lewis has a strong drug enforcement background. He was a criminal investigator for many years and was the coordinator for the Monroe County Drug Task Force until he became chief in January 2008.

"Over 80 percent of all crime is drug related. Many of our officers have received training in drug-criminal interdiction," Lewis said.

Street corner drug trade is uncommon in Lewis' jurisdiction, simply because there are few street corners. Drug transactions happen, often directly from a vehicle, in the parking lots of stores and restaurants. Dealers and buyers feel more comfortable making transactions in public than in their homes. Cash and inventory is carried with the dealer much of the time to prevent theft by other dealers.

Police often initiate conversations with people who are suspiciously parked to gauge how they will react.

Lewis says interstates 80 and 380 are major drug corridors for dealers traveling from New Jersey to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Hazelton. Some dealers take Route 115 to avoid state police.

The street value of drugs in the Poconos is unusually high, making the area ripe for sales. Some dealers come to the Poconos for the weekend, stay with friends, and leave a few thousand dollars richer.

In New York City, a gram of cocaine, about the size of a sugar packet, can be purchased in bulk for $20 a pack. In the Poconos, that gram is going for $75 to $100, according to police.

Marijuana in the city goes for between $400 and $500 a pound, depending on the quality. The Pocono price is between $1,200 and $2,000 a pound. In New York, $4 buys a bag (less than a gram) of heroin. The same amount in the Poconos is moving for $25 a bag.

"Heroin really is starting to rear its ugly head. The quality is very good and the price very low," Lewis said. "A lot of heroin is coming from North Jersey."

Police have found drugs hidden in most hollow spaces in a vehicle and disturbingly, "in their person, if you know what I mean," Lewis said.

Last month, Pocono Mountain Regional Police Cpl. Matt Nero and his partner Kane, a narcotics detection dog, found crack cocaine hidden in a pair of boots during a traffic stop.

Drugs are everywhere, not just on the road. "Our officers know there is a bigger picture. They don't go to a domestic and just leave," Lewis said.

This week police returned to a Mount Pocono apartment, where they had previously been called for a non-criminal incident, based on an officer's observations. A search of the apartment turned up at least 50 marijuana plants, according to a police report.

Despite all the drugs being removed from circulation, police cannot do it alone.

"It's supply and demand. We can take drugs off the street, but if there's still a demand, we are not going to stop the problem," said Lewis. "Parents need to get involved with their kids. And rehab does work."

 

 


CAUGHT IN TRAFFIC

Recent drug busts by the Pocono Mountain Regional Police:

Aug. 24 Maximaillian Dimartino, 19, of Tobyhanna, was charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after he agreed to be searched by police behind Mount Pocono Plaza in Mount Pocono on Aug. 24.

Aug. 21 Crack cocaine ---hidden in a pair of boots ---was discovered in the trunk of a Cadillac with help from Kane, a drug-sniffing dog. Police had stopped Eric Johnson, 28, of Gouldsboro, for a traffic violation in Coolbaugh Township. According to police, an investigation led them to crack cocaine, a large scale and multiple apple bags used for packaging drugs, and $1,500 in cash.

Aug. 19 Mark Riches, 48, of Mount Pocono, was arrested after Pocono Mountain Regional Police reportedly seized 50 marijuana plants at his home in Fox Fire Condos off Oak Street.

Aug. 3 On the weekend of a NASCAR race in Long Pond, a DUI checkpoint on Route 115 netted seven drugs arrests in two hours.

July 31 Police responding to a carjacking found the alleged carjacker, who was also wanted by Monroe County Domestic Relations and had drugs to boot. According to police, Michael Vines, wearing a mask, tried to enter an occupied vehicle at the ShopRite in Mount Pocono. He was spotted by arriving police officers and tried to flee. The drugs turned up as part of the search during his arrest.

July 19 Police reportedly witnessed a road rage incident and stopped the Ford Expedition involved. The driver, Rodney Baker, 40, of Tobyhanna, and passengers Salaam Montgomery, 24, Tobyhanna, and Michael Ryan, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., all seemed unusually nervous, and the scent of burnt marijuana was present. After a search, police reportedly seized a large quantity of suspected crack cocaine.

July 5 Hemchand Samaroo, 25, of Tobyhanna, was charged with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana after a traffic stop on Route 196 in Tobyhanna.

June 23 Police allege Salvatore Cottone, 23, of Mount Pocono, was found with marijuana during a traffic stop on Route 940 in Mount Pocono.

June 13 James Delaney, 22, of Shavertown, was charged with marijuana possession after a traffic stop on Route 115 in Blakeslee.

June 3 Kyle Becker, 19, of Blakeslee, was charged with theft, receiving stolen property, marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia possession in connection with an incident at his home.

May 4 Jerome Davis, 20, of Coolbaugh Township, was charged with marijuana possession after a traffic stop on Route 196 in Tobyhanna.

May 3 Timothy Bowker, 20, of Scotrun, was cited for possession of marijuana paraphernalia after a traffic stop on Oak Street in Mount Pocono.

Designed by Diva Graphic Design