The Great Barrington Police Department held a “swearing in” ceremony for its new comfort dog, Officer Beko on Friday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. at the police station.
Beko is a 16-week old black Lab who was donated by Peggy and Dave Brogan, owners of Boonefield Labradors and has more than 1,000 followers on Instagram, @k9bekogbpd. He works with Officer Kris Balestro.
Beko is the first comfort dog to join a police department in the Berkshires. In Great Barrington, he is another resource in the department’s community policing efforts, which also includes a staff mental health professional who is available to assist police on calls.
Sgt. Storti was instrumental in getting this program up and running.
The function of the Comfort Dog is to provide interaction during investigations involving children or adults to reduce anxiety and increase communication between the adult or child victim/ witness and investigators, to provide comfort for people during times of crisis and to provide aid and comfort to individuals, groups and communities impacted by violence, tragedy or traumatic events. The Comfort Dog is also a valuable tool in fostering dialog and communications between the police department and the community we serve. As the dog’s handler, Kris Balestro will incorporate this dog into his everyday patrol responsibilities, including visits to local schools, the Town Library, Senior Center, hospital and nursing homes, athletic events and children’s programs. Beko will also provide therapeutic relief to our officers and police department staff.
Beko’s training, certification and care is funded by donations from the local community with no cost to the taxpayer.