The Oakdale City Police Department K9 division is growing by three more four-legged officers.
City Council members unanimously approved the purchase order from Top Dog Police K9 Training and Consulting in the amount of $34,896.25 at the Monday, Nov. 4 meeting.
Currently, the two active canine crime fighters have been in service for five years and, according to the department, it’s time to start planning their eventual retirement parties. But before they can do that, plans need to be set in motion for their replacement hires.
Police Chief Scott Heller said the department is looking for two dual purpose police canines that are trained in apprehension and cross-trained to search for narcotics. However, a third canine is sought to sniff out firearms detection.
The new canines will not be imprinted for marijuana detection as in years past, as that skill has less value due to recent law changes.
Heller said, “With updates to state law, there are now circumstances where cannabis possession by an adult are considered legal. This creates a current challenge if a canine were to alert for narcotics during a search where cannabis existed, and ultimately other contraband was located by a search, the case could be challenged based on concerns regarding the validity of the initial probable cause to search.”
The Oakdale Police Department K-9 Unit and K-9 Association received donated funds for the purchase, training, and associated costs of the program. Existing donated funds in the K-9 Unit Trust Fund would be utilized for the purchase.
The firearm detection canine is a joint endeavor between the Oakdale Police Department and Top Dog Police K9 Training and Consulting. Top Dog has agreed to provide this canine at no additional cost to the purchase price of the two dual purpose police K-9’s that are trained in apprehension and cross trained to search for narcotics.
Heller said the firearms detection canine would be utilized during searches of residences and vehicles of known criminals precluded from possessing firearms such as documented gang members on probation or parole with specific restrictions related to their criminal status.
This police K9 is also being considered as a possible community asset to assist with increasing security at community events.
“In light of recent tragic incidents throughout the nation at some community events and festivals, the Oakdale Police Department is actively researching ways to harden our community events to the threats of gun violence presented by bad actors,” Heller said. “The addition of this firearms detection canine would be part of this overall strategy and could prove to be a regional asset to others on a contract and/or mutual aid basis.”
Support for the K9 program remains high within the community, officials added, as donors have reached into their pockets to fund and maintain the furry four-legged program.
Many notable businesses have contributed to the program as well as one anonymous donor who pledged $5,000. The Oakdale Women’s Club has also donated special vests for the K9 officers in the recent past.