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Belmont to accept anonymous $24,000 donation to create K-9 Program in Police Department

Posted by Evan Allen  January 7, 2013 04:13 PM

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The Belmont Board of Selectmen will accept an anonymous $24,000 donation on Monday night to create and support a K-9 Program in the Belmont Police Department.

“It’s very exciting. But very private,” said selectman Andy Rojas. “They want to be anonymous. It’s amazing. It’s a very generous gift for a very good cause.”

Belmont does not currently have a K-9 unit, he said. Instead, the town shares resources with other towns.

In a letter about the gift dated Nov. 30, Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin calls the creation of a K-9 Program a “force multiplier” for the department.

He lists benefits as increased officer safety, ability to conduct thorough building searches for both suspects and evidence, the ability to track lost or missing people, the ability to search thoroughly for evidence inside motor vehicles and a reduction to the number of officers needed and time required to perform those tasks.

Further, McLaughlin said in the letter, officer morale increases with the creation of K-9 units, and also affords police departments the ability to connect with the public during demonstrations.

From 2010 to 2012, McLaughlin writes, Belmont Police officers requested a K-9 unit 42 times.

“It is without question that if a K-9 were available in-house, these numbers would be significantly higher and the K-9 Program/Team would be recognized as an asset to the department and community that could not be easily replaced,” McLaughlin wrote.

In his letter, McLaughlin outlines the initial costs of implementation as well as the costs to sustain the program.

According to McLaughlin, the cost of a trained dog is $6,500. Initial training, which would be done at a Boston Police Patrol Handlers Course, would cost $1,400. In-service Training would cost $500 annually and veterinary costs would be $1,000 annually. Equipping a police cruiser for the K-9 would cost $4,500; building an outside kennel would cost $2,000; other equipment would cost $1,500; a K-9 bullet-proof vest would cost $700; and the dog’s annual food costs would be $600.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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