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Bennie, a therapy dog, is the newest member of the Franklin Police Department

Posted at 9:44 AM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 09:44:22-05

FRANKLIN — The Franklin Police Department has beefed up with police force with two additions it believes will help people in crisis.

Bennie, a therapy dog, is an Australian Labradoodle who may be cute, but it's his command to show compassion and care that make him a valued addition to the department.

His trainer, Karen Shaffer, is a trained expert who will use Bennie to respond to 911 calls involving attempted suicides, depression, domestic violence and homelessness.

From January through October, Franklin officers responded to 245 mental health calls, compared to 128 such calls in all of 2019. The pandemic may be to blame, but the need is real.

The police department has invested more than $84,000 on a community program it hopes will connect people to vital services, especially if they don't need to be in the county jail.

Watch the video in the player above to learn more.