Claremont police get unanimous approval to reinstate K-9 program

A new canine will be coming to the aid of Claremont police in the coming months with the city council’s unanimous approval to reinstate the police department’s K-9 program.

The police will welcome a new narcotics-trained police pooch 12 years after Claremont’s original K-9 program came to an end. The city’s K-9 unit previously operated between 1989 and 1998 with 2 German Shepherd patrol dogs named Mollog and Dusty. The program came to an end after a patrol dog bit a child while its handler was visiting a friend off-duty.

In the wake of police department cuts, officers are looking to bring the program back.

“With reductions in the staffing department, the addition of a canine will enhance the level of service we provide to the community,” said Chief of Police Paul Cooper.

The program would begin with a single-purpose dog trained to detect narcotics. The Labrador will be assigned to the DARE/School Resource Officer Sean Evans. The goal of the program is not to arrest students, but to make students think twice before bringing drugs on campus, Chief Cooper continued.

“I don’t want to give the impression that drugs are out of control at our schools, that’s not our reasoning in this assignment,” Chief Cooper said. “Recent surveys though from the National Institute of Drug Abuse show an increase in drug use by our young people in general.”

For the last 10 years, the Claremont Unified School District has used a private contractor for unannounced canine searches on school sites. Now the Claremont police will have its own.

The council approved the use of $55,000 for the purchase of the dog and a 2013 Ford police vehicle, replacing one that was recently damaged by a drunk driver. Ongoing annual costs to cover monthly training, food and veterinary costs plus overtime expenses are estimated at about $10,500.

—Beth Hartnett


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