Franklin citizens helped fund new K-9, find missing person

With help from the community, Franklin Police were able to fund a new K-9 without tax dollars and to find a missing man. These two deeds were met with public thanks from Chief Kirby Cochran and other city officials at the June 20th city council meeting.

“Community partnership wins” are something Cochran likes to celebrate, and eight people are on the receiving end of that celebration this time.

Three individuals, one group and two businesses came together to support FPD’s goal to fund a new K-9 officer following the death of K-9 Pepper last year. Typically, the department asks the city council for money to buy a new K-9, but Pepper’s death was unexpected, so the money wasn’t budgeted, Cochran said.

With help from donors, FPD raised the $16,000 needed to purchase K-9 Dina, a year’s worth of supplies, and training for Dina and her handler, Officer Jesse Brown.

Franklin Police Officer Jesse Brown holds K-9 Dina during a ceremony to thank donors to FPD’s K-9 program on June 20. Leeann Doerflein | Daily Journal

Dina and Brown have been working together for about a month, after going through training together. They’re part of Franklin Police’s larger K-9 program, which includes four K-9 and officer teams, and a therapy dog and social worker team, Cochran said.

Donors Kathy Ballou and Lisa Rollings of Central Indiana Police Foundation were at the meeting to accept the award and Cochran recognized four other donors for their contributions: Tyson Burris, Loretta and Norman Fahl, WinSupply Company and Wood’s Used Cars.

“We are dedicated to making sure you know that you matter and the sacrifices you make. We do that in a variety of ways,” Rollings said. “The chief is one of my favorite guys, we will do anything to support this guy and support Franklin police.”

Brown and Dina attended the meeting to thank donors as well. Brown has been without a K-9 partner since Pepper’s passing.

“My K-9 is my world, without her I’m nothing,” Brown said. “I appreciate your support.”

Also at the meeting, Cochran thanked Jaki Eckles, a Taco Bell employee who helped Franklin Police find a missing man.

Jacki Eckles and her son accept an award for helping Franklin Police locate a missing man. She helped reunite the man with his family and connect him with services. Leeann Doerflein | Daily Journal

Police had traced him to Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis, but he left and they were having trouble finding him again. Time was of the essence because his family was concerned he might be without shelter and off his medications, Cochran said.

Eckles recognized the man from FPD’s Facebook post asking for the public’s help in locating him. She made the connection after seeing him eat in the dining room at the Franklin Taco Bell where she works several times in a week, Cochran said.

Eckles talked to him and confirmed he was was the missing person. She helped police connect him with his family again and get him help through the Franklin Township Trustee’s Office, Cochran said.

Eckles helped FPD after the department played a role in getting her back on her feet years ago, Cochran said. She is the inspiration behind the JAKI Program, a partnership which connects homeless people encountered by Franklin Police to services from the trustee’s office.