K-9 unit proposal receives positive recommendation

City Council’s finance committee positively recommended a proposal by city police Tuesday to bring a K-9 back into service.

Initial needs include a dog for narcotics and eventually one for bomb detection.

Dogs can also be trained to fetch items such as cellphones, Chief Damon Hagan said.

The estimated cost of re-starting a K-9 unit with a trainer and maintenance is about $37,000 and the money won’t come from the general fund, but rather solicited funds, Hagan said.

Police Lt. Brian Womer will oversee the program. Several retired and experienced officers/handlers will assist.

The goal is to not only get a program up and running but to bring more K-9 units in, said Councilwoman Bonnie Katz.

K-9 history in the city goes back to 1920.

At one time, the department had four dogs. There was one on and off over the last four years.

A contract with a trainer is not expected to exceed the $19,000 price required to put it out to bid, said Joseph Pawlak, city fiscal and budget officer.

The initial cost of the K-9 equipment and training will be the bigger expense, and the city can use some of the borrowed K-9 equipment and existing equipment to save on cost, Hagan said.

He noted that much or all of the police department personnel were in favor of re-initiating the K-9 unit and seeing it expand as a crime suppression tool.

A method of how the donations are received and put into a separate account and used for various purposes will need to be worked out, said Councilwoman Liz Miele.