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K9 contract gets initial committee nod

Tacoma and other city police K-9s look as though they can be further trained under a proposed contract with a dog training academy.

Tacoma is the Belgian Malinois/German shepherd mix to be put into service and handled by Officer Tyson Minier, both of whom return from another academy at month’s end.

On Tuesday, City Council’s finance committee gave a positive recommendation for the city to enter a contract with Muddy River K-9 Academy.

The contract is for $5,000 per K-9 unit, with police preparing to train and deploy up to three dogs.

Councilwoman Liz Miele asked whether the academy would give a discount for more than one training team at a time.

“We’re on the hook for two and potentially three,” she said, adding the proposed contract might be changed to indicate the city is not to exceed $15,000.

It appears the contract was reviewed by the city insurer and attorneys.

Once those particulars were discussed, city Police Chief Damon Hagan said Minier is excited to get Tacoma out on the night shift, especially for drug-related offenses.

“We’re hoping for our dog teams to be on 4 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 8 a.m.,” Hagan said.

The third dog may be trained to detect explosives and be deployed in the day shift. “That is the goal,” the chief said.

Many city departments are getting involved.

Streets and Parks employees have built a kennel for Tacoma and the city intends to repurpose a fire station on Fourth Street as a substation and K-9 headquarters.

State caselaw requires the city to compensate K-9 officers with seven and a half hours of work per day and pay them at the full day’s wages.

A dog officer counts as an officer on the shift. Early officer comes in the shift to bridge the last shift.

“We go shorter on that day but should not create much overtime,” Hagan said.

The K-9 program got a big boost last year when Ciocca Dealerships presented a check to the city for that purpose in the amount of $43,861.

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