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  • I Have an Idea

    I would like introduce myself. My name is Matt. I have an idea and I do not have an avenue to pose it so I thought I would do it here and maybe it might help. If I’m off base or unrealistic then please tell me.
    Based on current circumstances in this country it is my opinion that changes in both police tactics and day to day living are going to change. So here’s my idea.
    There is not one thing to fix thoughts and issues and this will not be cheap or quick. What if each police cruiser had two officers and a K-9? If I am a person (race, creed, religion or gender are irrelevant) being stopped and I’m questioning can I get away for whatever reason I’m gonna size up the two officers. I’ll question my strength and cardio. Maybe I feel good about my odds until I see that dog. That’s a game changer. I cannot out run that dog. That dog is another non-lethal option. It does not have to be a drug dog (different training for a different purpose). The dog is not cheap on the front end but it doesn’t get paid or receive benefits.
    Smaller systems may be in place to train K-9 units now but that would need to be increased and funded on the state or federal level. You would create a, for use of a lesser term, a puppy mill. You breed the breed of choice and train from birth. It’s my understanding if you assault a K-9 it’s the same as a human officer.
    I have been around when a K-9 officer has walked up with the dog. That shifts attitudes. At least to me.
    I know this is not easy or cheap but it’s non-lethal and hopefully helps protect all of you.
    Would love to hear if this is not a bad idea of F’n ridiculous.
    Thank you for all you do at all times.

  • #2
    From a budgetary standpoint this idea is a complete non-starter for the vast majority of agencies in the US.

    I learned a basic lesson in budgeting and schedule planning during my years as a chief. There are 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day, for a total of 168 hours per week. In order to have one person physically on-duty at all times requires 4.2 full-time employees at minimum. When sick leave, vacations, training time and other considerations are added the actual staffing guide is closer to 5 FTE's for single officer coverage 24/7, and that does not take into consideration that there is no guarantee that the one on-duty officer will be available to respond immediately to any call for service (already on an assignment, in court, prisoner transport, etc, etc, etc).

    Staffing for dual coverage (2 officers assigned per unit) doubles the personnel requirement to ~ 10 FTE's per on-duty assignment.

    Assuming an average salary of $40,000, plus benefits (retirement plan, insurance plan, etc) of $12,000, each on-duty assignment has a basic cost of $52,000 annually, and $260,000 annually for one officer on-duty 24/7. Two-officer units doubles that number to $104,000 annually, and $520,000 for one unit assigned 24/7. NOTE: these are pretty low numbers in today's economy.

    Add in a trained K-9 (which includes a trained handler) and the cost per assigned unit rises exponentially. Cost of the dog, cost of training and certification of the dog and handler, the useful service life of each animal, and periodic training and re-certification requirements would all have to be factored in. Not likely to be less than $10,000 annually per assigned K-9, which becomes $50,000 annually for one assigned unit 24/7. Another fly in the ointment would be vacation times, sickness, or injuries to dogs and handlers; when the handler can't work for whatever reason the dog cannot be utilized. When a dog's service life is over there would be recurring costs for a new dog, new training and certifications for the dog and handler. When a handler retires or resigns the dog becomes unusable, and it may or may not be possible to retrain or recertify the dog with a new handler. A K-9 unit is a team of dog and handler, trained and certified together, and the various warm bodies are not interchangeable.

    Note that so far I have discussed only the numbers for one officer or one two-officer unit on-duty 24/7. In a community that requires 20 units on-duty 24/7, or 100 units on-duty 24/7, the math is straightforward and quickly translates from tens of thousands into tens of millions.

    Meanwhile, the projected scenario of calls for service that require (or simply benefit from) two officers and a dog on each scene will always be very limited. The overwhelming majority of police calls for service simply do not require two officers, and certainly do not require a K-9. One cop can take a burglary report, gather physical evidence at most crime scenes, interview a witness, or perform the vast majority of routine duties as well or better than two officers with a dog to babysit.

    Finally, there is the public relations aspect of implementing such a plan. For those not old enough to remember the bad old days of the 1960's and 1970's (civil rights marches, urban riots, anti-war demonstrations, etc) I would simply suggest doing a quick Google search of "Bull Connor" (notorious southern police chief who deployed attack dogs rather indiscriminately, with lots of photos and videos of the results), or watch a few WW2 movies showing Nazi soldiers using trained dogs to herd concentration camp prisoners. Lots of very ugly images, lots of very negative public perceptions to overcome.

    Heck, if I was running a small police department today I can just imagine reporting to City Council meetings and trying to explain and defend the veterinary bills, much less asking for a funding allocation to buy a new dog and send another officer to K-9 school every time someone resigns, has to be terminated, or retires. My budgetary needs were always in competition with the fire chief's, the director of public works, the director of parks and recreation, and every other department, and every member of a City Council has his/her own pet projects or agenda that seldom include law enforcement or K-9 patrols. I had a hard enough time explaining that adding one more cop didn't automatically make another cop available every hour of every day.

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    • #3
      OP, you don't ask the same question in two places. This section of the forum is also for sworn officers, so 'Ask a Cop' was the proper venue for your question.

      Last edited by just joe; 06-19-2020, 07:19 AM.

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