Justin Delivers Hope, a new local charity foundation, donated $35,000 to Wentzville Police Department to fund another K-9 dog to aid the department in preventing harm done by illegal drugs.
At the City of Wentzville’s Board of Aldermen meeting on June 26, Wentzville Police Chief Kurt Frisz accepted a big check from Justin Delivers Hope (JDH).
The local charity hosted three different fundraising events in the past eight months to raise the money for a new K-9 dog for the department. JDH was founded December of 2018 by Adam and Melinda Hendrix after losing their son to a heroin overdose in June of 2017. The Hendrix are the owners of Chic Lumber Company, and while the foundation started officially last December, they started taking action against what killed their son long before that.
“Our son passed away a little over two years ago from a heroine overdose. He was 23 years old. And with that, I decided that our company employee’s families needed to be brought education,” Adam Hendrix said. “Cause we were absolutely blindsided – we didn’t realize what was really going on. So I called the NCADA and they did a training for our company employees and families after hours.”
Along with the training, Adam and Melinda gave each of their employees a box of Narcan, a drug commonly in the form of nasal spray that blocks the receptors in the brain that heroin will lock onto to make an individual stop breathing.
“I gave away boxes of Narcan to all of our employees so everybody would have it at home if they ever needed it,” Adam said. “Because the one thing we don’t know is if we would have had Narcan would we have saved our son when we found him.”
Word spread about the training, and the Hendrix family realized a need and desire in the community for education and access to Narcan. Within the first year after Justin’s death, they self funded over $14,000 worth of Narcan. As the need continued to grow, they decided to start a foundation as they
couldn’t keep self-funding the efforts.
Justin Delivers Hope offers educational courses on the effects of heroin and Narcan, they sell rubber bracelets that come with a piece of cardstock with a picture of someone lost to a heroin OD and some words from their family, and they made a goal of providing a K-9 dog to a local police department every year to continue to fight the drug from a legal perspective.
Jacob Schmidt, the public information officer for the Wentzville Police Department, said the foundation had approached Wentzville police and asked how much a dog would cost. The department explained that while the initial purchase of a K-9 is between $8-12,000, there are a lot of other expenses that go into maintaining a K-9 unit responsibly. The department needs special equipment for the vehicle, officer, and dog that eventually comes out to $35,000 – a price that JDH willingly agreed to raise.
“It’s not cheap, but once you have it, you have it for 5-8 years and then even after that you can reuse the equipment. That initial expense is what’s hard for police departments to get into a K-9 unit,” Schmidt said.
The department has already started to purchase some of the specialty equipment, like a fan system for the vehicle that will kick on even if the car is turned off, as well as a special vest for the dog and kennels for the officer who will keep the dog at their home. An officer has been chosen to be the new K-9 handler, and that officer will head up to Michigan by the end of the month to choose a dog and then complete 6 weeks of training.
The Wentzville Police Department already has one K-9 unit, but adding another dog will allow for double the resources to focus on drug related crimes. K-9s are not always on call, but rather spend their days proactively looking for drugs with either traffic stops or by having different things called in.
“Any time we get any sort of drug tip or anything then it goes to the detectives and the K-9 unit and they use those tools to get that case wrapped up and eliminate that ‘dealer,’” Schmidt said. In 2018, Wentzville handled 243 cases of possession of a controlled substance, and 207 cases January-June of 2019.
Beyond funding another K-9, Justin Delivers Hope has also provided officers with Narcan for their personal vehicles in case they ever need to respond to a situation or give it to someone who could use it to help someone in the future. Individuals interested in obtaining Narcan can get the drug for free from the Wentzville Police Department or by visiting Chic Lumber. For more information about the foundation, visit justindelivershope.org.
“It’s very rewarding.” Adam said, “It at least gives some purpose to what’s happened. We didn’t just lose our son, we’re now doing something in his memory to save other people from going through what we went through.”