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One of Forest Park’s finest has retired from the force.

Sam, a drug sniffing German Sheppard, has suffered numerous health problems over the last couple years and recently underwent surgery for a stomach ailment. He now is dealing with what appears to be a disc problem or a pinched nerve, according to the department, so the police force has decided to retire the 8-year-old K9.

Sam will continue to live with his handler, Officer Scott McClintock, who will purchase the dog from the village for the nominal price of $1. The retirement brings an end to a six-year career, according to Deputy Police Chief Tom Aftanas.

“The dog is 8 years old as it is, which is generally the maximum for a canine’s service time,” Aftanas said.

Sam worked a regular 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. patrol shift with McClintock and was used mostly for building searches, drug searches and some tracking.

The police department is eliminating its canine unit, in part because of budgetary concerns. Sam was the second dog to be used by the Forest Park police, said Aftanas.

“There are no immediate plans to replace him right now,” Aftanas said.

When the police department needs a dog it will rely on other departments to use their dogs.

“Just the other night we called Maywood, because they have a dog, to search a vehicle for narcotics,” Aftanas said. “Maywood has a dog, Cook County [Sheriff’s Police] has several dogs, the state police have dogs.”

These other units will let Forest Park use their canines at no charge and without a formal agreement, village officials said, just as Forest Park has done with its K9 units.

The K9’s retirement was made official Jan. 14 during a meeting of the village council in which the police department unloaded a handful of items. The police department is also disposing of 10 sleeping bags, six plastic kayaks, and a tent that it has from a youth program funded by grant money and run by former police sergeant Dan Harder. The program was funded by federal grants distributed through Cook County. The kayaks, sleeping bags, and tent were used to take kids on rock climbing and kayaking trips to Wisconsin. The equipment will be donated to charity, said Village Administrator Mike Sturino.

Also at their meeting, council members signed off on a variance that allows for a larger sign to be erected outside of a Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins on Madison Street, west of Desplaines Avenue.

The council also gave unanimous approval for a conditional use permit to allow former La Piazza chef Gaetano DiBenedetto to open a new restaurant at 7636 Madison St.


Correction

In a Jan. 16 roundup of the village council meeting, "K9 cop turns in his badge," page 5, Gaetano DiBenedetto was incorrectly identified as the former chef at La Piazza. DiBenedetto continues to cook at the restaurant. At the meeting, he received a conditional use permit from the village to open his own eatery.