BRIDGEPORT - Bridgeport Police Chief Andrew Klotz approached Bridgeport Council to ask for its blessing in the possibility of acquiring a K-9 unit. Klotz plans on acquiring the K-9 unit through donations, police funds and help from council.
"Officer (Kevin) Yates and I have worked pretty hard on this," Klotz said. "We are interested in trying to obtain a police K-9 unit in Bridgeport."
Through a power point presentation, Klotz and Yates laid out the benefits of having a K-9 unit in the department. According to Klotz, the Bridgeport Police Department was created in 1903 and there is no record of ever having a K-9 unit.
ODOT reported that there are 35,370 vehicles that travel Route 7 through Aetna Street.
"In a 24 hour period, just on our Marion Street Bridge, you can see there are 26,020 vehicles that have exited onto that bridge," Klotz said. "Some 16,530 vehicles went through the US 250 interchange and over 20,000 vehicles have come off State Route 7 onto Lincoln Avenue. There is a lot of traffic coming through Bridgeport."
According to Klotz, with the number of vehicles that travel through Bridgeport, a K-9 unit would help lessen the drug trafficking.
"Not only are dogs able to detect narcotics, but can also search and track. I'm sure everybody has known in the past few weeks, there has been a mass of break-ins of vehicles and we have also had a home invasion, not only that, we have had pursuits where people will take off on foot. Having this search and tracking dog will enable us to apprehend them."
The K-9 unit would be a benefit to the village of Bridgeport not only through narcotic detection, but would help with the diffusion of potential threats and would help improve public relations.
"A K-9 can go places a human cannot," Yates said.
As for the cost, once the K-9 is purchased, the cost will be $372 a year for insurance.
Yates would serve as the K-9 handler. Yates has been with the Bridgeport Police Department for three years as a part-time officer. Recently, Yates took a position as a full-time officer in the village of Bridgeport.
"I think it would be a great experience ... There is no better partner in law enforcement then a canine," Yates said.
"I know Kevin (Officer Yates) really has a passion for animals, he has animals of his own, so I think he is the perfect fit for the K-9 unit"
There are three other K-9 units in Belmont County, Martins Ferry, Bellaire and St. Clairsville. A K-9 officer lasts seven to eight years before they are retired from the force.
"To be able to support and sustain a K-9 unit, the funding would come from drug seizures, donations, and the general fund," Klotz said.
"We have a lot of people coming though Bridgeport ... We depend on neighboring police stations for their assistance, we work very closely with all the agencies here in Belmont County, but it is not fair for us to continuously depend on them."
To make a donation or for more information, please contact Chief Klotz.
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