April 22, 2024

Sheriff Mark Butler presents a gift to K9 donor Ronald Greleski, who works with a nonprofit to donate bloodhounds to law enforcement at no charge. /Social media photo

On September 13, 2023, Sheriff Mark Butler sat down with Mike McCool in a “Meet the Candidate” interview, Sheriff Mark Butler on Challenges, Community Policing, and Election Goals.  Butler interview

At the 30:57 mark in the video, Sheriff Butler discusses how a lot of the funding at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office is from grants. Sheriff Butler says: “I’ve been come after about my K9s — ‘Well Sheriff, you spend all this money on K9s,’ — Did I? Not really. Our two bloodhounds that have already saved lives, we wrote–I actually wrote–that grant, and we got two for free, two for free,” the sheriff repeated to make his point.

Having previously been an employee at the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, I knew this to be false–or at least inaccurate–information. In February of 2020, an application, NOT a grant was completed for a bloodhound to be DONATED to Warren County Sheriff’s Office.

Information received from a Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office shows that on Monday, February 17, 2020, Mark Young with the Jimmy Ryce Foundation sent an email to Mark Butler advising him that they had passed along his information to the breeder in Louisville, KY who would be contacting him to make arrangements to pick up the puppy.

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Mark Butler replied to Mark Young’s email, asking for the breeder’s contact information. Mark Young provided the information for Blue Grass Bloodhounds.

The Blue Grass Bloodhounds website shows that Litter S (19): Storm X Clyde designated one of the puppies to Warren County, Va. Sherriff’s Office.  On the services page, the breeder states: “We have also partnered up with the Jimmy Ryce Center. They provide bloodhounds to law enforcement free of charge.”

After receiving the requested FOIA documents, a follow-up email was sent to the owner of Blue Grass Blood Hound, and also to Mark Young from the Jimmy Ryce Center. Both confirmed that the bloodhound was donated to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office through the Jimmy Ryce Center.

On March 20, 2020, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office posted on its official Facebook page an introduction to its newest addition, K9 Ash, an 8-week-old bloodhound. Within the post there is a photograph of Sheriff Butler presenting a shadow box with a Certificate of Appreciation, a patch, and a picture of K9 Ash and her handler.

Based on the image provided I was able to identify the gentleman in the photograph that Sheriff Butler was presenting the shadow box to was Ronald Greleski.  He confirmed on September 27, 2023, in a telephone call that he is a private breeder who provides K9s to law enforcement free of charge.

He advised that he was contacted by the ALIE Foundation, Inc. to see if he had a K9 he would be willing to donate to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Mr. Graleski confirmed that he did, and personally delivered the dog to the Warren County Sheriff’s office.  Mr. Graleski stated that he provided the bloodhound for “000.000 dollars”.

So, the bigger question is, why lie?  Or, does the sheriff not recall how he actually got the bloodhounds? Why not state that the bloodhounds were donated through the Jimmy Ryce Center and the Alie Foundation, and give them the generous donors the credit that they very much deserve?

Lies or misstatements like these call into question Sheriff Butler’s credibility or ability to effectively and honorably do his job. Additionally, the partially released Internal Affairs Investigations completed by his previous employer, Herndon Police Department, raise issues of credibility. Let’s not forget that omission of fact is just as bad as lying.

Between misinformation being spread by him regarding School Resource Officers, Animal Control Officers, narcotics seizures numbers and locations, the budget he can’t personally explain, and the inability to explain the poor retention issues, what are we to believe?

Jimmy Ryce Foundation   does the following work: Distributes pictures of children abducted by predators and tries to get media coverage; Increases public awareness of sexual predators and predatory abductions through speeches, brochures, newsletters, radio and television appearances; Provides information to teachers and parents on how they can teach their children to be more predator smart and thus more predator resistant; Identifies legislation and programs designed to better protect children from sexual predators; Provides AKC bred bloodhounds free to law enforcement to find abducted and lost children; Assists law enforcement in developing more effective procedures for handling predatory abductions; Counsels and provides support to parents of children abducted by sexual predators; Works to improve coordination and cooperation among state missing children clearinghouses, missing children nonprofit organizations, and law enforcement.

The Jimmy Ryce Center provides bloodhounds FREE to law enforcement, it does not require a grant or grant application. In order to be considered for a bloodhound, a simple application can be completed and submitted to The Jimmy Ryce Center C/O Mark Young.

The ALIE Foundation is registered as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation in Denver, Colorado. It was founded on June 10, 1993 in memory of Alie Berrelez, a month after her abduction. ALIE is an acronym for Abducted, Lost, Innocent, Enough. The non-profits states, “Our main priority, which is also our mission, is to communicate our message of concern to children, parents, families, law enforcement, and the general public. Child abduction awareness and prevention can save the innocence and lives of children. As a rule, people do not think about the dangers of child abduction on a daily basis. It is of great importance to talk to children often about the dangers and how to react should something happen. The ALIE foundation works closely with Law Enforcement (sic) to provide Bloodhounds for search and rescue purposes. Close to 500 bloodhounds have come through the Foundation to be delivered to law enforcement all over the country.”

Kristin Hajduk
Front Royal

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