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Protecting its own: Order of the Eastern Star donates bulletproof vest for canine unit

Colleen Creamer • Updated Jan 20, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Mt. Juliet’s Police Department’s incoming police dog will be a whole lot safer with the help of a ballistic vest donated by the Harvey Freeman Chapter No. 181 Order of the Eastern Star, the chapter that covers Wilson County.

The check was presented to Mt. Juliet police Tuesday afternoon at the department’s headquarters on Charlie Daniels Parkway.

Jennifer Murphy, this year’s worthy matron of chapter 181, chose the vest because of her love for both canines and first responders. The chapter held a fundraising luncheon for first responders in July, which netted a little more than the $1,000 – the cost of the bulletproof vest.

Murphy said she found out about the needed equipment while researching for the chapter’s annual cause.

“First responders are really close to me anyway because my cousin was a firefighter in Nashville, and he was killed in a fire back in ’97,” said Murphy. “Then, after getting to talk with the police officers and talking with the fire department, I found out about the dog. I said that is where I want our money to go.”

The German shepherd has not been chosen yet. That honor will go to Mt. Juliet Detective Justin Cagle, who will work with the dog.

Cagle said the department previously had a police dog, but the male German shepherd was allowed to retire with the officer who handled him. That dog recently died at 11 years old. 

Cagle said the force was waiting on equipment, which is on back order.

“Right now we are just getting one dog because we are restarting the program again,” said Cagle. “We are very excited; it’s been a while.”

Police forces in most major cities currently use police dogs to track criminals, find children or seniors who may have wandered off, detect bombs, drugs and other illegal materials, search buildings and do other jobs human police officers can’t do as well as dogs.

“Ours will be a dual purpose dog,” Cagle said. “These dogs are highly trained so they can track missing kids, as well as suspects, patients with a medical condition who may have walked off from the hospital … They can work with a single article of clothing.”

Cagle said he expected he would be able to go and choose the dog within the next few weeks.

“A dog makes everything better,” Cagle said.

The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world to which both women and men may belong. Worldwide, there are more than 500,000 members, according to its website.

Eastern Star is a social order comprised of people with spiritual values, but it is not a religion.  Its appeal rests in the true beauty of the refreshing and character-building lessons that are so sincerely portrayed in its ritualistic work, the website said. A deep fraternal bond exists between its members. While it is an order composed of people of deep spiritual convictions, it is open to all faiths, except no faith.

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