The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office next officer might have fur.
The office is seeking donations to assist in the funding of a new K-9 unit.
The renewed interest in a K-9 unit stems from a recent increase in reports regarding illegal narcotics and missing persons, Capt. Ryan Davis said. The dog would be trained to detect illegal narcotics, apprehend fleeing suspects and locate missing persons.
Interstate 69, in particular, brings an increase in reports regarding illegal narcotics, Davis said. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has seen a recent increase in seizures of illegal narcotics since section 4 of Interstate 69 opened up.
Because section 4 ends at the southern end of Monroe County, Davis said, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is concerned, not only about an increase in illegal narcotics traveling through Monroe County, but also an increase in illegal narcotics ending up in Monroe County.
“So we’re hoping with the interdiction schools that the majority of our patrol officers have been to, that they’ll be able to patrol the interstate and the surrounding interchanges and be able to recognize those signs of possible trafficking,” he said.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office hasn’t had a K-9 unit since 1996, Davis said. The unit was composed of Kilo, a German Sheppard, and handler Gary Johnson. Kilo was a multiple-use K-9, trained to detect illegal narcotics, apprehend fleeing suspects and track missing persons.
The IU Police Department and the Bloomington Police Department each have their own K-9 unit. Davis said the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office particularly relies on the use of the Bloomington Police Department’s K-9 unit.
“The Bloomington Police Department does an excellent job of helping us when they can, but there are also situations where their canine is unavailable or their call volume at that particular time doesn’t permit them to enter into our jurisdiction and assist us,” he said. “So we’re very reliant on the assistance of others, and we’re trying to combat that so we have more control.”
The total estimated cost of the K-9 unit will be $18,000, including $10,000 for the dog and its training, $5,000 for necessary equipment and $3,000 for a kennel. Recurring costs — including food, medication, vaccinations and veterinary care — will also effect the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office annual budget.
The handler will be selected from the current officers, Davis said. The handler must have a minimum of three years of full-time law enforcement experience and take an annual physical ability test.
“So they’re required to maintain a certain level of physical fitness, obviously,” he said. “K-9s are very active.”
The breeder will train the K-9, so when the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office purchases the dog, the K-9 will already be trained, Davis said. The dog and its handler will then attend a K-9 handler academy — organized by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department — which will train the handler how to properly work with the dog.
“Our intention is to utilize the same breeder and also attend the same handler academy (as the Bloomington Police Department),” he said. “That way our agency’s K-9 unit and the City of Bloomington’s K-9 unit can train together with the same practices and standards, which will benefit the community as a whole a lot better than different styles of training would.”
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