A Hyde Park Police Department request to restore the K-9 Officer position to the force was put on hold at the Town Board’s Dec. 2 workshop session.
Board members raised concerns about overtime, liability insurance and a stipend for the canine officer, who would care for the dog.
While Councilman William Truitt, a former canine officer, expressed strong feelings that a police dog would cut down overtime expenses, Supervisor Aileen Rohr and Councilwoman Emily Svenson both raised concerns about costs involved with acquiring a police dog and creating the canine officer position, which ended when Truitt retired from the department a few years ago.
“I love the concept of the position,” Rohr said, “But overtime is an issue, as is vet care and food…the pie is only so big when allocating resources.” A canine officer was not included in the recently approved 2014 budget.
Svenson supported Rohr’s stance, saying, “We really need firmer numbers before deciding on adding the position.” Rohr added that she had received input from community residents both supporting and opposing adding a police dog.
Truitt disagreed with the possibility of increased overtime costs, adding, “The canine position would decrease overtime costs because one dog in an emergency — such as searching out a building for drugs, or seeking out a lost child — can do more than three or four humans, and can do it quicker.”
Comptroller Tom Carey suggested that the board check with surrounding municipalities that have a canine officer to see what they are spending on the position. He indicated that the stipend for a canine officer would be approximately $7,300 above base salary, and said he would check what costs would be involved for liability insurance.
The board postponed any decision on adding financial support for the canine position until its Dec. 16 meeting.