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Stratford Police K-9 Program Gets Boost With Share Of $600K Bequest

Stratford Police Chief Joseph McNeil accepts his department's share of the Gleszer bequest from Danbury Sgt. James Antonelli during a ceremony at Danbury Police Department Wednesday. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
Officer Greg Topa and K-9 Zeke, of the Danbury Police Department, stand with Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton outside the station after a ceremony during which the DPD received a significant donation from the Gleszer estate supporting the K-9 program. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
Retired Detective Sgt. Randy Salazar speaks about the late Ken and Ann Gleszer before donations from their estate are distributed to area police chiefs to support their K-9 programs. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
Douglas Griffin, in white shirt, and his son, Douglas Griffin II, with their wives Jill (right) and Stephanie (left) attend ceremonies distributing donations from the estate of Griffin's stepparents, Kenneth and Ann Gleszer, at Danbury Police Dept. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller

DANBURY, Conn. — The generosity of a late couple from Danbury will go a long way toward improving public safety throughout Western Connecticut by funding K-9 programs at many area police departments, including the Stratford Police Department.  

The $600,000 donation from the estate of Kenneth and Ann Gleszer was awarded at a ceremony conducted at the Danbury Police Department on Wednesday.

The recipients included: 

  • Danbury Police Department, 
  • Connecticut Police Work Dog Association, 
  • Connecticut State Police, 
  • Brookfield Police Department, 
  • New Milford Police Department, 
  • Ridgefield Police Department, 
  • Newtown Police Department, 
  • Bethel Police Department, 
  • Monroe Police Department, 
  • Stratford Police Department and 
  • Easton Police Department.

Lt. William Scribner of the New Milford Police Department is a master trainer for K-9 programs in the region. He spoke about what’s involved in the specialized training.

“You need hard work, dedication, and a good dog. It’s an eight- to 14-week training program,” he said. “We train the dog in the city or town where the dog will work.”

“German shepherds are the best all-around dog for police work,” Scribner said. “They are dual-purpose dogs. We also have some Belgian Malinois. Then there are single-purpose dogs, such as bloodhounds for tracking, Labrador retrievers for narcotics.”

Of the Gleszer donations, Scribner said “It’s fantastic for the police departments. They will be able to take and hold the donation to use as needed, when they need to replace a dog. It’s wonderful for the police departments.”

Danbury police Sgt. James Antonelli, who coordinated the ceremony, has worked with police dogs for 16 years. Antonelli thanked the family of Douglas Griffin, retired Detective Sgt. Randy Salazar and attorney O’Malley Smith, who all worked on the donation process. Douglas Griffin, a Monroe resident who previously lived in Bethel, is the stepson of Kenneth and Ann Gleszer and was instrumental in administering the donations.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton added his thanks. Citing the presence of so many police departments, Boughton said, “We’re all here because this is a big deal. This donation allows us to expand our operations. Danbury has a long history with the canine department.”

Boughton also spoke about strengthening regulations concerning the treatment of police dogs. “We should treat assault on a police dog as an assault on a police officer,” he said. “I think we can strengthen the laws surrounding that.”

Randy Salazar spoke after the mayor and introduced Bruce Bertram. An incident involving Bertram, when he worked as a police officer handling K-9 officer Falk, reminded Salazar of the significance of the Gleszers' donation. 

During one shift, Falk took a bullet that may have been intended for an officer, Salazar said.

“K-9s take the same risk police officers take,” Salazar said.

The Gleszers' donation is significant: Salazar said it means a total of 88 working service dogs, 43 of which would be K-9s with area police, and the rest would be other service dogs, such as seeing eye dogs and comfort dogs.

“It’s so commendable,” he said. “I’m so proud that people know the magnitude and generosity of the Gleszer and Griffin family.”

Read more about K-9 Falk by clicking here.

For more information about Stratford's K-9 Unit, click here.

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