For the second time in three years, the same local student has successfully completed a fundraising campaign for law enforcement in a short period of time.

Dylan Prather, at the time a Columbus North High School senior, received a $9,405 check from the Custer Foundation to purchase a new police dog for the Columbus Police Department on Aug. 30, 2013.

This week, Prather — now a junior at IUPUC — proved that the first time wasn’t a fluke when he successfully concluded a similar campaign on behalf of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

On Thursday, Prather, now 20, received a corporate donation of $18,000 from Real World Testing, LLC., an automotive testing firm located off County Road 50W near the Bethel Village subdivision.

In both campaigns, Prather astonished many community members by raising the necessary funds in just a little over a month.

Due to the donation, a new police dog should be obtained and matched with his handler, Deputy Matt Bush, just in time to begin formal training together in September.

April Gray, operations manager for Real World, said she has had a high regard for Prather since he was a boy. However, Gray said it was one benefit in particular from having another police dog that convinced her bosses to make the donation.

“Helping to stop the drugs,” said Gray, who added Real World has also contributed to the local Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.

Many court affidavits detailing recent drug seizures show police dogs have often provided officers the probable cause they need to search a suspected drug dealer’s vehicle.

But besides tracking down narcotics, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers said K-9 units also are used for tracking and apprehending criminal suspects, hunting down evidence, finding missing persons and protecting their human handlers.

“This dog will save lives,” Myers said following the presentation.

Bush, who has been with the sheriff’s department for more than five years, expressed astonishment at both Prather and Real World’s donation.

“The community support is mind-blowing, considering you see a lot of negative stuff in the news these days about police officers,” Bush said. “Dylan is wonderful at raising money and bringing awareness that we need to stop the flow of drugs.”

It’s easy to be persuasive when you are promoting the right cause, Prather said.

“Citing the drug problem has been a major gate opener, because everybody has someone in their family affected by drugs,” Prather said.

When people realize how many lives have been ended by narcotics such as heroin and methamphetamine, they realize it’s better to “put somebody in jail than have the alternative happen.”

Prather, who intends to enter the Indiana University Police Academy in May, said he will continue his work at IUPUC after receiving academy certification toward receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

As for now, he keeps a full schedule by working as an emergency dispatcher, an IUPUC security officer and for a local funeral home as he continues taking classes.

Timetable

As a result of an $18,000 contribution from Real World Testing, LLC, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department expects to take possession of a new police dog within a month.

Canine and handler Matt Bush will undergo a six- to eight-week training session together, starting in mid-September, before they can be placed into service together, Deputy Sheriff Maj. Chris Lane said.

Most local K-9 training takes place at a facility near Harrison, Michigan. During training, the officers and canines train together on sniffing out narcotics, apprehension commands, suspect tracking and article searches.

The cost to purchase, train and maintain a police dog for a year and provide training for the canine’s handler is more than $15,300, according to the Columbus Police Department. After that, the annual cost per dog runs about $1,700.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.