OTTUMWA — It turns out the idea of the Ottumwa Police Department reinstating its K-9 unit is a big hit.
The Ottumwa City Council voted unanimously at last week's meeting to bring back the unit, which had been dormant for several years. The police department will receive two dogs and training as part of a $22,500 contract with Tree Town Kennels of Forest City.
Police chief Chad Farrington originally brought the idea to the council last year, and stated the costs would be driven by fundraising, and that has turned out to the case. Lt. Jason Parmenter, who spoke to the council, said about $38,000 in donations had been secured.
However, the contract does not include police vehicle equipment or K-9 transport or care equipment. According to an estimate from RACOM, that would be $44,451, which the council also approved.
"We're not adding anybody to the force whatsoever. We are not wanting to and we're not going to budget to pay for this program," Parmenter said. "The two officers that will be with the K-9 unit will be on the street just as they are now. They'll just have a K-9 partner with them and have a few additional responsibilities."
Parmenter said a K-9 is usually in service "about seven to nine years" and the current handler will then have the option to purchase the dog.
"In year's past when we did have a K-9, I think maybe the handler purchased the dog for like $1, something like that," he said. "And basically he lived in the handler's home as a pet."
Parmenter said the department is currently seeking additional funding as well. One area of funding is a forfeiture fund, where the police department would receive a cut from what is seized from a drug dealer; after a 10% payment toward the state's attorney general's office, the remainder gets put in a forfeiture fund.
"That can be used to further law enforcement and enhance law-enforcement purposes," Parmenter said. "I know in the past with our like drug task force, we would use forfeiture for necessary equipment, for tracking devices. I think one time we purchased a new undercover vehicle. So those funds are available for us to use."
The dogs, named Havoc and Rico, are a mix between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois, and "they look almost like a shepherd, but they're just a little bit smaller in stature, not quite as big and bulky."
"So you kind of get the downtime of a shepherd, but the wanting-to-work of the Malinois," Parmenter said.
The training for the K-9 handlers will go from March 6-31.