K9 unit effort deserves everyone’s support

THE PLYMOUTH POLICE DEPARTMENT is well on the way to adding an effective new crime-fighting tool to its arsenal – a four-legged tool.

The department would like to add a K9 unit to its roster and is looking to the public to raise the $60,000 necessary to get the program up and running.

As the department explained in announcing the campaign:

“There has been an increase in drug-related crimes and particularly disturbing a stead increase in the use of heroin. The city of Plymouth is not immune from these problems and our officers have seen firsthand the overdoses and deaths that heroin and other drugs cause in our community. We have realized the need for change and the addition of a K9 unit would be a welcome tool to assist our officers in our effort to combat this growing trend.”

A GoFundMe campaign site (gofundme.com/PlymouthK9) has raised nearly $3,000 in less than two months and a fundraising campaign largely through the members of the Downtown Plymouth Association has raised another roughly $10,000. Donors can purchase a “PAW” for $1, $5 or $10 at any downtown Plymouth business to add to that total.

In addition, three local companies have indicated they would be willing to give a total of $25,000 in support in exchange for recognition on the K9 unit squad car.

All of that would put the department more than halfway to their goal.

And Chuck Van Horn Dodge has stepped forward with an offer to sell the department a special police-package 2014 Dodge Charger they have in stock to serve as the K9 unit squad car for a very reasonable $22,000.

The department is planning several fundraisers this spring and summer, including a dunk tank at Mill Street Festival in July, a Culver’s fundraiser May 4, the American Legion brat fry on Memorial Day, and a golf outing in September.

That’s a lot of chances over the next few months to help make the needed K9 unit a reality.

The $60,000 startup cost includes the cost of purchasing the dog (a Labrador Retriever) from an accredited breeder in Indiana, training for the dog and the officer who will be its handler, the squad car for their use and food and veterinary bills.

Police estimate that the annual cost of the program after that will be between $1,500 and $2,000, mainly for food and veterinary bills. The department has pledged to finance that cost through fundraising and grants, meaning there would be no additional cost to taxpayers for this vital and needed service.

Presently, there is no K9 unit available on a full-time basis in western Sheboygan County and there is a desperate need for it.

“The predominant tool for law enforcement in the detection of illegal drugs is a canine unit,” the Plymouth Police Department says on its GoFundMe page. “A K9 unit would be on day-to-day patrol with its handler and accessible for traffic stops, available for educational purposes to local schools and civic groups, and it would fill the requests of local schools for canine searches throughout the school year. Canines can search a building in a fraction of the time it would take an officer.”

Plymouth’s efforts to add a K9 unit have been endorsed by, among others, Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco and Elkhart Lake Police Chief Mark Meeusen.

One thing we all should support is a safer, more secure community for all of us. A K9 unit for the Plymouth Police Department would be a powerful tool in ensuring that and battling the growing scourge of drugs in society.

The K9 unit has already gotten tremendous support. All of us should get on board to get the effort over the top and get a K9 unit on board.

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