The Claremont Police Department is making strides towards reinstating their police K9 program, having purchased a new dog and preparing for training, Police Chief Paul Cooper told Claremont-La Verne Patch this week.
Cooper said the dog and new handler, School Resource Officer Sean Evans, will head to training beginning the second week of December.
They will have to complete 200 hours to become certified and deployed as a team to local schools. Cooper estimates that will be by the second semester of the school year, in January.
The dog, who was born in the Midwest, cost the department less than $10,000 to purchase and will specialize in drug sniffing, Cooper said. The purchase was approved at the Oct. 23 city council meeting in an unanimous vote.
“I don’t want to give the impression that drugs are out of control at our schools,” Cooper said at that meeting. “That’s not our reasoning in this assignment. Recent surveys from the National Institute of Drug Abuse shows an increase in drug abuse by our young people in general.”
Cooper tells Patch the focus isn't to arrest or cite as many students as possible; rather he hopes that the presence of the dog will make students "think twice before bringing drugs to campus."
What's more, for the last several years, the school district has had to contract with a private company to perform drug searches at local schools, and Cooper says this canine will help quell that cost, while also allowing for more searches as deemed necessary.
The addition of this canine will resurrect an era at the police department, which hasn't had K9 officers since a program that ran from 1989 to 1998, with officers "Mollog" and "Dusty," a pair of German Shepherds.
“Mollog was retired after five years. Dusty unfortunately had an accidental off-duty bite that injured a person,” Cooper told the city council. “We voluntarily shut down the program and retired Dusty following that incident.”
Now, more than a dozen years later, they are looking at reestablishing the canine program because, “with the reductions in staffing at the police department, the addition of a canine will enhance the level of service we provide to the community,” Cooper told the council.