Ring­gold mov­ing for­ward with K-9 Unit for po­lice depart­ment

The Catoosa County News - - COMMENTARY - By Adam Cook

Af­ter more than a year of dis­cus­sion and some un­fore­seen ob­sta­cles, the city of Ring­gold is near­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of a K-9 Unit to its po­lice depart­ment.

Late in 2015, Po­lice Chief Dan Bil­brey pro­posed adding a K-9 to the depart­ment as a way of help­ing in drug cases, and was even able to se­cure do­na­tions to fund the project.

Af­ter pur­chas­ing the dog and get­ting the wheels in mo­tion in the ef­fort, the depart­ment ex­pe­ri­enced a set­back when the of­fi­cer as­signed to the K-9 left the agency.

Now, the city has signed on a new of­fi­cer tak­ing over the K-9 by unan­i­mously ap­prov­ing the funds to get that of­fi­cer the needed train­ing.

“We do have an op­por­tu­nity to move for­ward with the ini­tial K-9 we were look­ing at,” Mayor Nick Mill­wood said. “We have an of­fi­cer ready to do that. Fund­ing for lodg­ing and food while he’s there at the train­ing will be our only ad­di­tional ex­pense in do­ing this.”

Af­ter the ini­tial of­fi­cer moved on from the depart­ment, the city en­ter­tained the idea of sell­ing the dog, but in­stead opted to stick with it a lit­tle longer to see if an­other of­fi­cer could take over.

“We have a lot of time and money in­vested in this, and there’s a need there,” said Mayor Pro Tem Terry Craw­ford. “Chief Bil­brey ex­plained to us a lot about how we work with the county now and some of the steps in this. I think it will be ben­e­fi­cial to us. Down the road if some­thing hap­pens ... we have the same op­por­tu­nity to pos­si­bly sell that an­i­mal again.”

Coun­cil­man Larry Black, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, agrees that adding the unit could help the depart­ment in the long-term.

“This is a sit­u­a­tion where we pur­chased a K-9 for our po­lice depart­ment to be used, and we had turnover sit­u­a­tion where the of­fi­cer left, so now we have re­tained this dog and gone through a re­train­ing pe­riod,” Black said. “We now have an­other of­fi­cer that chief Bil­brey feels like will be an as­set to take the K-9 pro­gram that we’ll use in the city for drug stops and that type thing. We do feel com­fort­able with this and we do sup­port the K-9 pro­gram, so we’re look­ing for­ward to get­ting this off the ground again with this sec­ond go-around.”

Ring­gold Mayor Pro Tem Terry Craw­ford dis­cusses the city adding a K-9 Unit to its po­lice depart­ment. (Ca­toosa News photo/ Adam Cook)

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