CHAGRIN FALLS — A $30,000 donation designated for purchase and training of a K-9 officer was discussed then recommended to Village Council by its Safety Committee on Monday.
Chagrin Falls police Lt. Jason Weiskopf presented the information along with officer Dennis Nyce who will serve as the human “handler” half of the team.
With the donor’s permission, the lieutenant said township resident Matt Brandenburg, CEO of the Prince & Izant Companies, has made it possible for the department to follow through on a 2016 plan to add a K-9 unit to the department.
The lieutenant said the dog, which has not yet been chosen by the trainers, will be trained specifically for his Chagrin Falls environment and the kinds of calls he and Officer Nyce would answer including tracking lost or runaway children and suicide situations when tracking is accomplished more efficiently by a dog than the slower moving humans.
Lt. Weiskopf recalled a call to find a missing person who had threatened to harm himself and was believed to be somewhere in Whitesburg Nature Preserve.
“That is a vast endless place when you are on foot. In those cases, it is efficient using the dog who can sniff out the person’s location.”
In addition, the dog will be a good will ambassador walking down Main Street on a busy Saturday afternoon, at the village fairs, outdoor concerts and other public events. To that end, the dog will be trained as low keyed and approachable in public but all business when he is working a case.
Lt. Weiskopf added that the dog can be trained for drug sniffing, but will not be trained for marijuana “since it has all but become decriminalized and once they are trained they cannot be untrained,” he added.
The K-9 Unit costs have been determined as follows.
Police dog training facility Shallow Creek Kennels near Youngstown will supply the dog and six-week dog and man training course, plus most of the required equipment and care of the dog. That cost is $15,500 including some additional training.
A low mileage 2017 unmarked police car will serve as the rolling part of the K-9 unit. The cost of outfitting it with proper markings and electronic equipment is $12,125 totaling $27,625 with more than $2,000 left.
Beyond those costs provided for through the donation, K-9 unit expenses will be included in the police department budget. They include:
Veterinarian care will be provided free by TLC with exception of about $400 for vaccinations. Health insurance for the dog runs under $550 per year. Insurance provided by the village’s company is $400 a year and any required boarding $459 a year.
Lt. Weiskopf said that some of the annual cost of upkeep could come from residents’ donations in dog-friendly Village of Chagrin Falls.
“We intend to start an account where we can fund the canine program through private donations, which has been successful in many other area departments,” he said.
“Once the program is set up, the continuing costs (of the unit) will be minimal. We suggest budgeting about $3,000 a year for these continuing costs so we don’t have to solely rely on donations.
It was explained that Officer Nyce will be compensated through use of the K-9 unit car, which he will take home along with the dog.
“I have a wife and two kids and we have discussed this a lot,” he said of mixing his work partner with his family and home life and how his work partner cannot become a family pet.
Officer Nyce’s training will continue monthly. His partner will be given a bullet proof vest and a police badge and is expected to be ready for his Chagrin Falls assignment next spring.
Council did not take a formal vote on the proposal and may not need to, according to safety committee Chairwoman Angela DeBernardo.
“I spoke with (Chief Amber Dacek) this morning and there is no contract at this time that requires approval, and while I don’t think legislative action is necessary, I intend to check with our legal counsel,” she said.