Joe P. Asher
The Cumberland City Council was introduced to a possible addition to the Cumberland Police Department during a recent council meeting. Officer Jackie Stewart brought in Harley, a trained drug-locating K-9, in order to advise the council on the advantages of having such a dog in service.
During an interview with Stewart, he pointed out he purchased the dog himself from the Midway K-9 Academy in Rock Island, Tenn., and is asking the city to help with the insurance for the dog and vehicle that will be used as the city’s K-9 unit. A vehicle has already been donated to the city specifically for this purpose. He said the total expense to the city should be less than $2,500, with donations possibly covering much of that.
Stewart introduced Harley to the council at a recent meeting.
“Alright guys, this is Harley,” said Stewart. “He’s a 2-year-old male, he’s full narcotic trained on the detections of marijuana, coke, crack, heroin and methamphetamines. He’s also full track and trail, non-aggression trained.”
Stewart pointed out that he and Harley are currently going through the bonding process, a required part of training.
“Right now, the reason why he’s with me is we got the bonding stage we go through to get him acquainted with me,” stated Stewart. “Now I’m required to go to handler’s school sometime in May or June, whichever time I pick, and get my certifications.”
The council inquired about the financial aspects of having a drug dog on the police force.
“As far as vet bills, usually the only thing ever used is shots, and that usually runs around $100.” said Stewart.
Harley’s food costs also must be considered.
“They want us to maintain him around 65 to 70 pounds,” stated Stewart. “I’m averaging about $50 a month, so that’s roughly a little over $400 a year on his food.”
Stewart volunteered to take responsibility for much of Harley’s care.
“I will be responsible for all the maintenance and care for him,” stated Stewart. “And I will even take care of the food and the vets.”
There are costs other than food, such as insurance.
“As far as the upkeep, the overall costs for the insurance, I checked the quote on the insurance and it’s $1,650 a year for $100,000 coverage. That covers anything from accidental bites, destruction what have you.”
Stewart advised the council that he was working on a donation program which would minimize Harley’s cost to the city.
“He was used prior to my handling, he was used in the school in Warren County, Tennessee with the school resource officer down there, and he pretty much stayed around kids daily. That was one of the reasons why I chose him instead of one of the others because the others had the aggression to them,” Stewart said.
Council member Charles Raleigh asked for some clarification about the benefits a K-9 unit might have for the city.
“Let’s say the dog hits on a car or van or whatever and you wind up finding $20,000 in cash and drugs — how does it benefit the city?” Raleigh asked.
“Anything that is seized with him (Harley) during the scope of our duties would benefit the city,” explained Stewart. “Once we take it to court, it gets released, it goes into the city fund or what have you for the police.”
After some discussion by the council concerning which fund such money should be placed into, Stewart explained the benefits the dog could have concerning the need for obtaining a search warrant during a traffic stop.
“With a dog you do a sniff search, walk him around and he hits, that gives us our probable cause to go in without the warrant.”
The council decided to get estimates of the total expenses and benefits which would be incurred by use of the K-9 before making a final decision.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org