Tyrone Borough Council unanimously approved a request by the Tyrone Police Department to begin the process of starting a K-9 unit in the department.
The police department was approved to receive a $15,000 grant from Operation Our Town for the purchase and training of a police dog, but council first had to give approval of the grant before the TPD could move forward with the K-9 unit.
Funding will be dispersed contingent on Tyrone Borough providing proof of insurance to Operation Our Town prior to the purchase of the animal, by which council approved to do so. The dog will be dual-trained on the detection of narcotics, as well as on general law enforcement techniques.
It is a one-time grant award for the purchase and training of the animal. Upon receipt of the funds, the drug dog and all costs, liabilities and insurance coverage will be the sole responsibility of the Borough of Tyrone.
It is estimated that the dog will cost around $6,000 a year, which includes food and vet visits, insurance, officer handling pay, and updating the department’s current Dodge Durango to be suitable for the dog. The police dog is estimated to serve seven years of service, 40 hours a week and is re-certified every year at a cost of $100.
Tyrone Mayor James Kilmartin feels that the K-9 unit is very important because it reinforces the department’s stand against drugs in the Tyrone community. He said the dog will be available whether it’s winter or summer, and it brings drug investigation up to a different level.
“I would just say to those involved in drugs to beware,” said Kilmartin. “We’re taking a heavier stand.”
TPD Chief Joe Beachem said the number one goal of the dog is drug detection, preventing the drugs from coming into town, officer safety and the people the department are sworn to protect. He plans on having the people of Tyrone to get the opportunity to meet the dog after it is purchased and trained, and make some appearances to promote the new addition to the force.
Beachem hopes to get some drug seizures with the dog and keep people from bringing drugs into the community, which would increase the progress the police have already made with the drug problem in Tyrone. That would be “mission accomplished.”
“I’ve seen this department and the drug task force make a lot of improvements in Tyrone and I want to continue that until we make Tyrone so unappealing to drug dealers, that they take us off their map. That’s the goal with the dog, it’s just one more tool,” said Beachem.
He added that many of the “out-of-town” drug dealers are becoming increasingly creative with where and how they hide their drugs. By having the dog on duty and going through the procedures the department needs to go through for the dog to search, the dealers won’t be able to hide drugs from a properly trained canine as opposed to the higher possibility of hiding drugs from a human officer.
Beachem also thinks the K-9 unit will help in property crimes at night, such as burglaries, adding “a burglar may be able to elude an officer in the dark, but will probably not elude the dog.”
“We want to send that message too,” said Beachem. “It’s my hope that the dog will be a deterrent to such crimes at night and that type of behavior.”
Beachem stated that the department owes the people at Operation Our Town a great amount of thanks to even make a K-9 unit possible with a department as small as Tyrone’s. With a $15,000 start-up cost, it would have been difficult for TPD to come up with those monies.
“I was very heartened by the vote tonight and I appreciate the support,” said Beachem. “I know, we as officers, see we’re having an impact on the drug trade, and I want to continue to do that, and continue to add tools to be able to do that.”