The Crosby Police Department’s most rookie officer will be much safer on the road thanks to the generosity of a local business.

The Northern Pacific Center District in Brainerd — a business conglomerate of Goody’s Gourmet Treats, Loco Espress, Notch 8, and the NP Center — donated funding necessary to purchase a bullet-resistant vest for Crosby K-9 officer Ragnar, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois.

Ragnar has been with the Crosby Police Department since summer 2019. Working with his handler, Officer Mike Davis, the K-9 specializes in search and rescue, narcotics detection, evidence location, tracking, and community outreach.

Crosby Police Chief Andy Rooney said protective vests are not standard issue when a police department purchases a K-9 for duty; however, most cities and counties want to protect their investment and typically seek private funds to buy a vest. When hearing about the need, staff from the NP Center District stepped up and provided 100% of the cost for the vest.

“Jenny Holmes from the Vest Our Dogs fund initially contacted us about the opportunity,” said Derek Owen, spokesperson for the NP Center District, said in a news release. “It was a no-brainer for us. We want to do whatever we can to give back to those who give so much to serve and protect us — including our four-legged officers.”

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With the funding in place, the police department has ordered Ragnar a customized vest to protect vital organs from gunfire and still allow ease of movement when tracking.

“Many people may believe that a police K-9 is just an animal,” Rooney said, “when, really, a police K-9 is a member of the department and a member of the handler’s family. Being able to procure a protective vest has been a positive step in protecting a member of the Crosby Police Department.”

The Vest Our Dogs fund was established in 2000 and, through donations from the public, helped purchase six vests for police departments in Crow Wing County. Donations to help provide future K-9 vests can be made to the Vest Our Dogs fund at any BlackRidge Bank location.