The Superintendent of the Delaware State Police Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr. and The Delaware State Police K-9 Unit on Dec. 21 recognized the individuals that have contributed to the K-9 unit this past year.

In 2017, the unit raised more than $10,000 to purchase ballistic vests for DSP K-9s. The cost of one vest ranges from $1,000 to $1,500, depending on the level protection and customization of the vest.

Those who contributed to the K-9 unit fund for the purchase of these new vests included:

— Brennen Wright, a student at Appoquinimink High School. As part of his senior project, Wright raised funds along with Valerie DeLisle of the DeLisle K-9 Officer Safety Foundation to donate ballistic vests for different police departments throughout the state of Delaware. The Veterinary Specialty Center of Delaware donated to Brennen's project for a vest to specifically be given to DSP. Another vest that was donated this year was in memory of Sgt. Rodney H. Bond Jr.

— Ken and Annmarie Kowrach supported the K-9 unit to show thanks and appreciation on behalf of one of the graduating handlers, Cpl./1 Brian Page of Troop 7.

— Heather Stuttard made a donation to the K-9 unit in memory of her beloved German Shepherd, Zak. She has also made a second donation in memory of her mother, Diane Stuttard, who recently passed away.

— Rich DeZao of the St. Polycarps Squire Circle has made annual donations to the K-9 unit for the purchase of ballistic vests. The Squires have also conducted fundraisers at their church in order to support the unit.

— Crystal Rau conducted a fundraiser earlier in the year specifically to contribute to the purchase of the new vests.

Through all of the support and contributions this year, the unit was able to purchase seven new vests to outfit their K-9s. The vests are crucial to the dog’s safety when responding to potentially lethal incidents, and they will help protect the K-9s from gun shots, stabbings, explosives and blunt force trauma.