At this week’s City Council meeting Monday, Police Chief Rick Knouse and Officer Jeremy Grider presented the need to add a K-9 officer to the department.
At this week’s City Council meeting Monday, Police Chief Rick Knouse and Officer Jeremy Grider presented the need to add a K-9 officer to the department. They first examined the expense, noting that it would cost an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 for the dog, training, housing, medical maintenance and required certifications for the addition. Officer Grider intends to take on initial expenses through his available G.I. Bill, to purchase and train a dog for the unit, which would account for $20,000 of the up-front expense. General expenses such as food and vet care, the platform addition to a patrol vehicle, door and air enhancements required for a service dog, are estimated at $3,500. Yearly medical expenses were estimated by a local vet service at $500. Additional expenses were estimated by way of “kennel time”, where the officer is required to spend time with the dog and travel, because Grider resides outside of Chillicothe. According to Grider, the overtime spent with the dog would come to $4,821, or he could spend that time during his shift. Speaking about the officers of a similar unit, with a similar 12-hour shift schedule, in the Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Grider said that their K-9 handlers utilize one hour during their shift to keep from the added overtime expense. The city’s insurance already allows for a K-9 officer, so there would be no added expense there and third party certifications through organizations such as the Missouri K-9 Association, are also available. City Auditor Theresa Kelly stated that she believed the project would be able to fit in the budget, and could be added into next years budget. She pointed to the various city departments and how they have stayed below their budgets all year. Grider explained that narcotics cases continue to rise in the Untied States, in general, and that the city of Chillicothe has had more than 400 narcotics cases since 2013, and 50 so far in 2017. Chief Knouse spoke to the advantages of having a K-9 unit, expressing the length of time, money and resources it saves. He went on to further explain the process it takes to build a narcotics case, the amount of evidence that is required to secure a search warrant, saying “when this dog walks around the car, it’s basically a done deal.” Grider also pointed out the added safety to the officers having a service dog, saying that having a service dog helps avoid confrontations with suspects. A K-9 unit is also used in missing persons situations and can disrupt drug trafficking in schools with simple walk-throughs. The council voted unanimously to allow Grider to proceed with the process of accessing his G.I. Bill to purchase a dog and go to K-9 school, but it will be months until the board will meet again on the subject of commissioning a service dog in to the department.