Mount Horeb PD makes the case for K-9s
MOUNT HOREB, Wis. (WMTV) - Mount Horeb police are trying to bring police dogs back to their department after funding and staffing had challenged the program’s return.
When the department’s only K-9 handler retired in 2011, the entire program shut down. It had survived for about a decade within the station’s 124-year history.
Currently, the department can borrow K-9s from other local agencies based on willingness and availability. “It’s always in the back of our head, ‘Hey, let’s get a K-9 rolling. Let’s have one present or at least one close. Sometimes we have that luxury. Sometimes we don’t,” Sergeant Cory Rehfeldt said, citing recent missing persons cases.
Rehfeldt says police dogs can serve different purposes, some of which people cannot do. Examples include tracking missing and endangered people, sniffing cars during traffic stops and being a part of community outreach.
With officers already expressing interest in becoming K-9 handlers, Mount Horeb police are preparing to bring the program back within the next couple of years, according to Rehfeldt. Staffing for the position previously has been an issue because it takes time for officers to get into the specialty.
The department is also trying to jump over the hurdle of funding, as start-up fees alone can cost up to $125,000. The amount would cover the dog itself and the squad car specific to the K-9 and its handler.
Within the Madison Police Department, Captain Stephanie Drescher says costs for her team of eight K-9s are in part covered by a nonprofit. They amount to tens of thousands of dollars.
“Absolutely. The benefits outweigh the cost,” Drescher said. “This unit is able to take tens of thousands of dollars of drugs and firearms off the street. They are able to safely apprehend someone with a much lower level use of force. We’re able to track missing people, missing kids, missing adults, and that’s where we really see the huge benefit of this.”
Mount Horeb is currently competing to win a nationwide grant that would help cover initial costs for the forthcoming K9 program. Community members can take part and vote until June 5.
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