The Great Bend City Council put some more teeth in the city’s stepped-up anti-drug campaign. It approved Monday night the purchase of a second drug dog and three new police vehicles.
“The council has made its top goal to ‘take necessary action to make Great Bend a safe and drug free community,’” City Administrator Howard Partington said. “We’ve taken this very seriously.”
Police Chief Cliff Couch said the new dog is critical.
From 2010 through 2013, the K-9 unit was called upon 39 times. But, from 2013 to the present, it has been called out 125 times.
That increased use shows why a second K-9 would be important, Couch said. “We’re using the heck out of this dog.”
The current K-9 officer Cpl. Adam Hales, works one shift per day, but gets called out whenever the dog is needed. This creates hardships for Hales and delays at crime scenes.
There is also the potential for injury. In fact, Kia broke three of his toes during a demonstration at the Gun and Hoses open house Saturday and is out for four to six weeks.
But, a dog isn’t cheap, Couch said. The new dog will cost $14,500. There will also be $1,000 for an officer to be trained as a handler.
Partington said the city had the money budgeted for the cars, but not for the dog. Funds will be pulled from either the $30,000 set aside by the council for drug enforcement or from the city’s reserve account.
The new cars are also needed, Couch said.
Drawing from $115,000 set aside in the budget for new police cars, the city will a buy new vehicle for the police chief(probably a Chevrolet Tahoe or a Ford Explorer Police Interceptor), a Tahoe for use with the new drug dog and an Interceptor for use by Great Bend Police Department officers.
“I want the good guys in Great Bend to know there are plenty of police vehicles,” Partington said. An increased presence will help promote the idea of a safer community.
As for the choice of the types of cars, Couch said all of the patrol fleet is made up of the Interceptors. The officers like them and it makes sense to have all the vehicles alike. This allows for the reuse of the expensive specialized gear that must be installed in the cars.
The Interceptors are smaller sport utility vehicles with special police packages and are fine for day-to-day work, But, the larger Tahoe is needed for the police dog so there room for the animal as well as space to transport a prisoner if necessary, Couch said.
Updating the police fleet is nothing new, Couch said. In the past, the department would buy six new cars every two years.
But, to become more flexible and efficient, the department will now but three new cars every year. This way, the chief said they can keep them longer and allow for replacement as needed.
The department has always “recycled” vehicles, he said. The used cars “trickle down” for use by the detectives or fill other needs.