HARTVILLE One of the most beloved members of the Hartville Police Department is hanging up his shield.

Village Council unanimously approved motions to retire Hartville Police Department K9, Bill Stanios, from service and sell him to handler Don Worthy for $1, per the Police Department K9 program policy, at its March 3 regular meeting.

The retirement comes following Worthy’s announcement of his resignation from the force.

Worthy said he is leaving to pursue an opportunity at another agency, noting that he would hope to someday work another K9.

“I want to thank all the ‘Friends of Bill’ for their support of the K9 program,” Worthy said. “The program was operated fully on donations and all of those who donated supplies and money and food helped make my dream come true, of being a K9 handler.”

At the March 3 meeting, village officials discussed whether to allow K9 Bill to leave with Worthy, or continue with the department.

Mayor Cynthia Billings said that it is in the village’s best interest to continue the currently fully funded K9 program. However, Bill has had a number of health issues that both village officials and the Police Department believe would increase should the 5-year-old German Shepherd remain on the job.

Bill recovered from an ACL injury that required surgery in 2018 and has more recently been diagnosed with a spinal abnormality that has limited his abilities when he becomes fatigued.

“He knows no fear,” Worthy said of his partner’s work ethic that may have played a role in his eventually physical problems.

Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea commended Worthy for adjusting to Bill’s limitations following his injuries.

“Don probably extended his work life,” Dordea said.

Bill was instantly popular throughout the community when he became the department’s first K9 in August 2016 and has since been involved in 74 calls, including drug searches, person searches, building searches, and work with the Stark County Sheriff’s Office, United State Marshal Violent Fugitive Task Force, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and numerous area agencies.

“For us, those are big numbers,” Dordea said. “And the coolest thing about Bill is that he never had to bite anybody. He was intimidating enough that just his presence, and his bark, changed some of those who would have resisted officers or fled.”

He added that each time Bill was on a call “doing police work,” it also freed up other officers.

Dordea said he is confident that the department will have another K9 and handler in place by April 1, when the next Canton Police Department PK9 Association training session is scheduled.

Other actions

Council also had first readings of resolutions to renew village contracts with TAC Computer Services and Varney, Fink and Associates, the latter contract for the firm to act as the village fiscal officer.