Officer safety. Narcotics detection. Tracking.
“A dog can do what human eyes can’t and what human hands can’t,” Det. Al Coghill told Canonsburg Council Monday—when Mayor David H. Rhome and the announced it was seeking to implement a K9 program in the borough.
They attended council’s meeting to seek its blessing in proceeding with plans for the program, a blessing that council granted.
Members of the police department were clear: The price to implement the program is steep, and the only way to pay for the $55,000 to $60,000 upstart costs would be through the support of local businesses willing to donate to what officers called an asset to the department and community.
Those initial costs include the price of the dog, as well as a special K9 patrol vehicle and officer training.
The department is also looking to any available grant sources, Coghill said.
Police and Rhome said that not only have companies such as Weavertown Environmental and Aquatech expressed interest in donating to the cause, but local groomers and other companies have also said they will help offset the cost of maintenance by providing such things as grooming services and food for the dog.
The fundraising effort will be ongoing through April 2013, with officer training for Officer Matthew Tharp, who will handle the dog, tentatively scheduled for April 8, 2013.
Although some members of council questioned how the addition of the K9 officer would effect the borough’s insurance and overtime costs, Tharp assured them that the animal would be covered under the general policy, and is treated as a tool no differently than police weapons such as Tasers for insurance purposes.
Any other potential issues would be worked out between council and police, it was determined.
Currently, police said that Cecil Township, state police, Charleroi and Mon City are the only communities in the county that have K9 programs in place.
Police chief R.T. Bell said he would prefer for one corporation to sponsor the program.
A few years back, Consol did something similar for the , which in turn named the K9 officer Miner.
“We have no problem naming the dog (for the sponsor),” he added.
Editor’s Note: Those wishing to make donations may call the Canonsburg Police Department at 724-745-8020.