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Beline Obeid

New K-9 would be all-GP


March 06, 2014
THE GROSSE POINTES — A police K-9 unit is so costly that, if it is reestablished, it would likely be structured as an asset of all the Grosse Pointes, not of a single department, as in the past.

In any event, replacing the police dog, which died of illness last November, depends on joint municipal funding and, most likely, outside support.

"We're still working on the issue," said Stephen Poloni, public safety director for the City of Grosse Pointe, which established K-9 operations nearly a decade ago.

The costly operation was slated to be disbanded upon the 8-year-old dog's retirement.

But when it died, an outpouring of sympathy revealed its public relations value, especially as a communications tool between police and school children.

"I met with the public safety directors of the five Pointes, mayors and managers," Poloni said. "We talked about having a K-9 unit for all the Grosse Pointes, not just the City's dog."

Farms administrators are exploring options.

"We're not going to take on anything we don't think is financially viable," said Shane Reeside, Farms city manager. "There's a certain threshold that would have to be raised before it is achievable."

"It would be contingent on a lot of factors," Reeside said.

Considerations go beyond the roughly $12,000 cost of a dog, which usually retire at or before 10 years old.

"It costs approximately $230,000 to $250,000 over the life of the dog," said Dan Jensen, Farms public safety director.

Other factors include the interest of an officer to become a handler and, because the officer must be available during overtime hours, the proximity of the handler's house to Farms headquarters.

Then, there's training time the dog and handler are out of commission.

"The first year, the dog trains once per week," Jensen said. "After the first year, its' twice per month."

The City's former dog handler said he trained 16 hours per week at a facility downriver.

Poloni said fundraising efforts include meeting with the school board, corporate foundations and the K-9 Safety Partners of the Grosse Pointes.

A contribution from the Safety Partners helped establish a K-9 unit last year in Harper Woods, a member of the Grosse Pointe mutual aid pact.

"We don't know, due to fundraising efforts, if we'll have enough for two dogs," Poloni said.

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