9 City Council Authorize the Reinstatement of Police Narcotics Canine Program.

Meeting Date: OCTOBER 21, 2014

Agenda Item #9. City Council Authorize the Reinstatement of Police Narcotics Canine Program.

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STAFF REPORT

AGENDA ITEM: Council Authorize the Reinstatement of Police Narcotics Canine Program.

MEETING DATE: October 21, 2014

PREPARED BY: Ruben Chavez, Chief of Police

REVIEWED BY: Jose Antonio Ramirez, City Manager

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RECOMMENDATION:

Staff recommends that the City Council approve the reinstatement of the Livingston Police Department canine program.

BACKGROUND/DISCUSSION:

Between the years 1999 and 2005 (approximately), the Police Department staffed a Police Officer with a narcotics canine for a patrol function. There were a total of three officers with three different dogs. The program was designed to provide a resource for officers in the field when a suspected narcotics violation had occurred. The officer would utilize the narcotics canine to detect any illegal narcotics contraband by scent. A positive indication would allow officers to safely conduct a search of those areas. These types of single purpose canine programs are common in many areas of the county and state and have proven beneficial in reducing the flow of narcotics in communities. The Merced Sheriff’s Department and all police departments in Merced County, with the exception of Livingston and Gustine, have narcotics canine programs.

The Police Depattment requests the program be reinstated as a narcotics "single purpose" canine program as opposed to a dual purpose program where the canine is trained and used for apprehension and/or explosives as well. Dual purpose canine programs require additional training and equipment. At this time, the Department feels a single purpose canine program would be sufficient for the City of Livingston.

There are several benefits to the program. These include the increased number of seizures of narcotics in Livingston which help keep narcotics out of the hands of our youth and the seizure of assets associated with narcotics transactions which would directly fund the costs of such a program. The mere presence of a narcotics canine program would further deter those involved in the narcotics trade from traveling through the City of Livingston. The dogs additionally serve as ambassadors for the Department conducting many presentations at schools, especially during Red Ribbon Week.

There are several companies and kennels that provide police canines to law enforcement agencies across the country. One company, which has gained national notoriety, is a company called Universal K-9 (see the company’s website at "www.universalk9inc.com "). The company’s founder and trainer, Brad Croft, rescues canines and trains them for personal protection, narcotics, explosives and patrol. The company provides grants to agencies who desire a canine at no cost. The only associated costs for the initial start up would be the training of an officer which takes two weeks at an approximate cost of $2,500 and the modifications of the rear compartment area of a police vehicle for the dog. These costs would be one time and minimal.

There are other associated annual costs which include a 2% incentive pay increase to the officer for the personal care of the dog which would become part of the officer’s family. The associated food costs would be approximately $2,000 per year and the veterinarian costs would be approximately $1,000 per year.

These annual costs could in essence be covered by a single large asset seizure. There have been several recent cases where a canine was requested from the Merced County Sheriff’s Department which resulted in a large seizure of money. The benefits of having a program greatly outweigh any associated costs.

There are other options for obtaining dog food such as seeking donations from local supermarkets which is common practice. The funding allocated for this program has been identified to come from the Police Development Impact Fees.

FISCAL IMPACT:

1. One-Time Officer Training- Approximately $2,500

2. Annual Food Costs – $2,000

3. Annual Veterinarian Costs – $1,000

4. 2% Wage Incentive – $1024 to 1248 Annually

ATTACHMENTS:

None.

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