(LINTON) - The Linton Police Department has cut the K9 program.
Police Chief Troy Jerrell explained that the cut was essential despite the usefulness of K9 Charlie, who was handled by Officer Tom Jerrels.
Jerrell says the monetary costs associated with the K9 program was not the problem.
The problem was having enough officer to patrol Linton streets.
"That's where it hurt the most," the chief explained. "By law, you must give [handlers] an hour a day of overtime, but in our case it was comp time. What we did was work it out with [Jerrels] where he worked an hour less a day and got a half hour before shift and a half hour after shift to take care of the dog time."
That along withlayoffs, having officers on vacation and two injured has caused troubles covering shifts.
"We've lost two guys to lay-offs and then we've got two injured, so that put us down to seven officers," he added. "That leaves us short and with him out doing training with the dog takes another officer off the streets. Then comp time creates more comp time- every time somebody is off a day, you have to call someone in and they're getting time and a half. You're losing a half hour on someone every time they're working over- it's an endless cycle and I'm trying to cut that out as much as I can. When someone's in court and they were scheduled to work that day then I've got to replace them or not have anybody on a shift, and I've got to have somebody on the shift."
Jerrell does believe the loss of the city's K9 program will have a big impact on public safety and officers can request a K9 from other departments in the area if needed.
He hopes to restart the K9 program some day, but that for now it is a choice between having a K9 to help with arrests or a human officer on the street. He also stressed that this was not a decision he made overnight, and explained that state budget cuts have put town and city police departments in a tough situation.
Jerrell added that the department will keep all of the equipment it used for the K9 program, so that it will cost very little to restart it in the future.
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