The Hoquiam City Council unanimously approved the re-establishment of a K9 officer with a focus on narcotic detection.
In a report from Chief Jeff Myers, he states that the department last had a dual-trained canine with “Enno” who passed away from cancer in 2013, but an opportunity has arisen that would allow the department to start this specialty again.
In his report, Myers states that with the legalization of marijuana, the effectiveness of drug dogs in service has changed since the dogs were originally trained to detect the now-legal narcotic in addition of other still illegal substances and this has caused a “significant shortage of available narcotic canines” over the last few years.
According to Myers, the department has an opportunity to purchase a narcotics detection canine through the Washington State Department of Corrections as part of the canine handler training course, with the costs of the program including the canine.
Officer Spaur has been tapped as the officer that would work with the dog during and following training.
The cost of the program will be approximately $1,500 for the academy, including the price of the dog, although additional expenses approved include a 2020 Ford Interceptor SUV built with dog handling equipment, patrol coverage while Officer Spaur is at training, annual food and vet costs, and other expenses. Myers estimated an initial start-up cost of $85,560, with the majority of the expense being in the vehicle.
The benefits listed included providing use during drug search warrants both in Hoquiam and at times with the Grays Harbor Drug Task Force, the possibility of random school drug sweeps, and regular sweeps of the City Jail.
Myers said that the department is proposing covering the cost of the program, with much of the funds coming from drug forfeiture funds.