Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

K-9 will be good addition to force


November 21, 2019

For some reasons, K-9s with law enforcement agencies seem to draw concerns. I've seen municipalities balk at having a K-9 on force for several reasons: the cost, the upkeep and, of course, the almighty liability.

I've learned over the years that there are different types of dogs. I've watched the hounds from Century Correctional Institute and Fountain track suspects through the woods, swamps and beyond. When they find them, all they want is a pat on the head because they are not there to bite, only to track.

I have seen those fast-running German Shepherds that are trained to bite and take down a suspect. I watched one years ago drag a guy out of a closet inside a Century residence. Every time the suspect tried to hit the dog the dog bit harder until the suspect gave up.

Flomaton Police Chief Chance Thompson presented the town council with an opportunity Monday night for Flomaton to get a trained drug-sniffing dog at no cost. No cost simply means the town won't have to pay the $6,000 to $7,000 to purchase such a dog. There will be costs associated and Thompson spelled out most of them. In addition to a $50 per month fee, there is an estimated $400 a year charge for veterinarian services to make sure the dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations and other routine checkups, like heart worms and such. There will also be a cost associated with feeding and housing the dog and some cost with getting a Flomaton Police Officer certified – notice I said certified instead of trained, because the officer must be certified to work a dog. That goes back to that liability issue.

My personal opinion is adding a drug-sniffing dog to the Flomaton Police Department is a positive step. Thompson pointed out what I already knew that the route from Atlanta down Highway 113 to Pensacola and vice versa is a major drug trafficking route.

Over the years I've seen a lot of drugs, cash and guns found along this route.

I'm not a lawyer, but I've read enough police reports to know that law enforcement officers first need probable cause to pull over a vehicle. That probable cause can be everything from speeding and not using a turn signal to something as simple as not having a tag light.

I learned about the tag light when my daughter Maggie got pulled over one night coming back from Brewton. To be honest I didn't ever know there was a tag light. She got the warning with a time frame for 'me' to fix her tag light.

If you read the Tri-City Ledger on a regular basis you will see in reports that an officer has made a traffic stop and asked for consent to search. Some say yes, some say no. That's their right. A police officer doesn't have permission to search your vehicle unless you give consent (in most instances unless the smoke of marijuana or spice comes rolling out of your window).

We've got a story in this week's paper where two people in East Brewton were pulled over and refused the consent to search. But Bruiser walked around the vehicle and smelled something funny and a drug arrest was made.

Thompson made it clear that he wasn't getting a bite dog. He also made it clear it was not only a drug dog, but also a tracking dog.

Thompson also made a comment that stood out to me that the dog could be a good 'PR' tool for the police department. I agree. Bring the dog to the schools, show the students what the dog can do and it will have an impact.

I'm not as worried about how much money the new drug dog can possibly make for the town in seizures as I am in having this dog keep drugs out of Flomaton.

We are in an epidemic with spice and spice is a killer. If the presence of this dog keeps one person in Flomaton, whether it's a student or not, from using spice, it's worth every penny.

This dog will be a valuable asset to the Flomaton Police Department and it will also be a valuable asset to the entire community.

Hopefully, the dog will generate money for new equipment for the police department, but more importantly, I hope it sends a strong message that drugs will not be tolerated.


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