The Harrison Police Department is seeking the town board's approval to purchase a new K-9 that could be in service by the end of the year.
The Harrison Town Board is slated to vote on the purchase during Thursday night's meeting. The new K-9 would cost the town approximately $15,000 plus just more than $22,000 to train a handler for the dog this fall. Some of that cost would be offset by a $1,500 donation from Willow Ridge Country Club and would also be funded by narcotics seizures that the animal assists in once in service, said Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccini.
One of Harrison's two police dogs is expected to retire within the next few months, Marraccini said. If the town board approves the expense of the new dog this week Marraccini said he expects the dog to be prepared and trained for service by this fall.
The police department has pushed the board to consider a new police dog in each of the last two annual budget discussions. Marraccini, who was one of the first K-9 handlers within the department in the '80s, is a strong supporter of the department's K-9 unit and said the importance of having police dogs ready at a moment's notice shouldn't be overlooked.
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"I think it's important that the criminal community be made aware that Harrison Police is not only continuing its police K-9 team but that we are out there in full force," he said, adding that police dogs assist with anything from burglaries and narcotics investigations to helping locate missing children or lost senior citizens.
Although the Westchester County K-9 Unit is available to help with such investigations, Harrison and several surrounding communities have maintained their own units. Marraccini said this is because the county unit isn't always immediately available.
"The county does have police K-9s, but, unfortunately, they're not always at our disposal," Marraccini said. "When we are investigating crimes time is of the essence for successful apprehensions and investigations."
Marraccini added that with the pending retirement of Harrison's second police dog, the department can't wait another year for the board to approve a purchase.
"We cannot wait any longer," he said. "We've waited as long as possible."
Police K-9s are typically assigned to one officer, who cares for the dog at his or her home and is trained to handle it. The town pays for the care of the dog during and after its years of service.
There has been no decision made as to which officer within the department would handle the dog if the board votes to add a new K-9. The officer selected to handle the dog would go through the seven-week Gold Shield K-9 Training in Blacklick, OH, from October 15 to November 30.