Big Ben, Ernie & 4-legged officers

Officer Ernie served the Covington Police Department for 8½ years.

The story behind a $10K grant 

COVINGTON, Ky. – A press release published Tuesday in Pittsburgh gave the news: The Covington Police Department was among police departments awarded a $10,000 grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund (“Roethlisberger” being Big Ben, the Steeler quarterback) to support its K-9 operation.
That release can be seen HERE.
But as with everything, there’s a story behind the story, and in this case it’s interesting, cute, and heart-wrenching all at the same time.
Here’s Police Chief Rob Nader:
“We submitted a grant proposal to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation (BRF) – The Giving Back Fund – in early September 2021. Our intention was to replace one of our senior K-9 partners, Ernie, so that he could enjoy the rest of his years rolling in the grass, bathing in the sun, and indulging in the “occasional” Scooby snacks.
Unlike Big Ben’s incredible 17 seasons in the NFL, a Police K-9 partner’s career is about 7 to 10 years depending on health and injuries.
K-9 Ernie started working for our team in June 2012. During his 8½ years of service, he was a reliable and dedicated officer, always eager to start his shift to help make our community safer. In 2015, Ernie was shot twice after a man wanted for attempted murder exchanged gunfire with our officers. Ernie was bandaged up, and after a time of recovery, was able to return to work.
The shooting resulted in a Kentucky law being amended in 2017 to make assaulting a police dog a felony charge. It became known as “Ernie’s Law.”
Unfortunately, shortly after submitting our proposal to BFR, we noticed that Ernie was losing his enthusiasm and was having some trouble hopping in and out of the cruiser. He was taken to the veterinarian and was diagnosed with cancer. 
We knew it was time for Ernie to retire, and we had to find a new partner, which are some big paws to fill.  After reaching out to our K-9 friends, we were able to find his replacement, Duke, in early October, and Ernie began his retirement on October 9, 2020. Unfortunately, Ernie was not able to enjoy his retirement very long, as his sickness worsened, and he was laid to rest on Jan. 29 of this year.
Early last week, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation contacted us and told us that we were selected to be awarded $10,000 to replace Ernie. We explained our recent loss (that had occurred shortly after we submitted our proposal), and we were still awarded the funding to help pay for Duke’s training, kenneling, food, veterinarian visits, and also to help our other two K-9 partners, Holly and Zino, for 2021.
I would like to thank Big Ben for his continued support of the four legged police officers across our nation and for the support of the Covington Police Department K-9 Unit in its 52nd year of service.”

# # #