by Sergeant Johnathan Cates, of the Reedley P.D.
The Reedley Police Department is attempting to expand its K9 program to include cross trained dogs. Our current program is made up solely of a narcotics detection dog (Baxter) and the handling officer. Cross trained police dogs are not only able detect narcotics, but can also be used as a protection dog. These highly trained “officers” have the ability to track scent trails and use force when necessary against aggressive suspects.
Historically, the Reedley Police Department had an advanced K9 program which included protection K9s. Unfortunately this program was set aside after a few dogs retired, followed by their handlers. The program was not continued because the City of Reedley entered the difficult times of the economic down turn. Our K9 program was one of the first things to be cut in order maintain the lower budget levels.
The need for the return of a K9 program has been reassessed recently. This is due partially to the fact that now allied law enforcement agencies are unable to assist with their own dogs due to the attempt to balance their own budgets. Several times recently, requests for K9 assistance in locating fleeing violent criminals has been denied by allied agencies based on these grounds.
The level of violence from suspects has increased significantly within the City of Reedley over the last year. There has been a measureable increase (approximately 40%) in suspects who resist, flee and fight with our officers. This, combined with other departments being less likely to assist with their K9s has left our department without an important a safety tool. There is also the immeasurable cost of lost apprehensions of fleeing suspects. The police dog also has a psychological effect on suspects. Suspects will often surrender when a K9 team is present, instead of struggling with officers, resulting in less injuries.
Another capability provided by the police service dog is the building search. To match a single K9 team’s thoroughness during a building search, it would take the deployment of several police officers. The K9’s sense of smell and sound greatly enhances this capability. Several man-hours can be saved because of the speed in which a K9 unit can search a building, requiring fewer officers at the scene.
In order to revamp our program, numerous Reedley PD Officers began a fundraising process in order to get police dogs back on the streets. We have made significant progress with about 50% of the money raised needed to purchase and handle the new K9.
The purchase of the new K9 will be a significant cost that the City of Reedley cannot afford on its own. The Reedley Police Officer Association K9 group has been proudly accepting donations from the public, to gather the funds needed for the dog and related equipment. This money will not only purchase the K9 but also be used for equipment such as a K9 bullet proof vest.
If you are interested in donating to the Reedley Police Department K9 Program contact Sergeant Johnathan Cates: johnathan.cates@fcle[dot]org.