Updated: March 20, 2013 9:48AM
CROWN POINT — The Board of Public Works and Safety gave the go-ahead to the Police Department to purchase a third police dog.
Police Chief Pete Land told the board that this would give the city one dog on every shift, and round-the-clock coverage.
The officer chosen to be the new K-9 officer and partner to the new dog is Officer Dave Wilkins. The name for the new dog will not be chosen until after the city takes ownership.
Land said, “The dog will come after the springtime classes are conducted in Schererville. While the training is going on for the dog it will also be going on for Wilkins. The K-9 academy will choose the dog that best bonds with the new handler.”
Since no one sponsor has stepped up as yet to purchase the dog for the city, all expenses, both the initial purchase and long term maintenance, will be paid for through the department’s K-9 Donation Fund.
Land said, “A year ago the Dean and Barbara White Foundation gave our K-9 fund a $35,000 donation to keep police K-9s in service in the city.”
“This also includes having to equip a squad car for the dog,” he said. “The K-9 Division is self-sustaining. The only thing I budget for is an annual figure for vet bills and dog food.”
The department budgets $2,000 annually for veterinarian services. Anything above comes from the K-9 donation account.
The dog will be purchased and trained through Region K9 Training owned by trainer Lisa Nieman.
In just one year the two current K-9 teams have had 29 vehicle searches for local cases. Twelve resulted in possession-of-narcotics arrests. The teams have done eight searches for DHE Task Force activities and five searches for outside agencies: one for Jasper County, one for the Drug Enforcement Agency, and three for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.
K-9s Buddy and Radar assisted in the detection and seizure of over 2,000 pounds of illegal narcotics in their searches for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Among other things, they have conducted 13 building searches; located a wanted subject; and tracked and found a burglary suspect, a suicidal juvenile and a home-invasion suspect. These two dogs were part of eight fight calls where their presence helped break up the fights, and assisted a SWAT team on one call.
Each K-9 team, dog and handler, must take part in a minimum of 16 hours of training each month. They also do a variety of public events.
According to Land, K-9s are annually certified through the American Police Canine Association. The Crown Point K-9s are certified in obedience and narcotics, building and vehicle searches.
Mayor Dave Uran said Jim Hawk and Tim Heidbreder are also significant contributors to the program.