FIGHTING CRIME in the Ohio Valley is getting tougher and tougher these days.
With drug activity on the rise and police agencies stretched to the limit due to financial constraints, local law enforcement personnel have their work cut out for them.
Any advantage or support that can be given to those departments would help ease their respective burdens. The Bridgeport Police Department is hoping a dog can put some added bite in the force.
Bridgeport Police Chief Andrew Klotz approached village council Wednesday, requesting its blessing on the possibility of acquiring a K-9 unit.
The St. Clairsville, Bellaire and Martins Ferry police departments, as well as the Belmont County Sheriff's Department, all have K-9 units as part of their forces. All four police dogs have proven very effective to be valuable assets in crime-fighting.
Ecko, Martins Ferry's canine cop, has been high-profile and a very active member of that city's high-functioning police force. The Bellaire, St. C. and sheriff's department K-9 officers have also been instrumental in recent arrests.
Two big keys play into police agencies securing a K-9 unit.
One is being able to fund it. Such animals do not come cheaply, nor does the upkeep. Secondly is having the proper handler, as a vast amount of training goes with a K-9 unit.
St. C., Ferry, Bellaire and the sheriff's department all have been able to accomplish both. Now they are reaping the dividends.
Klotz plans on acquiring the K-9 unit through donations, police funds and help from council. The chief says once the K-9 is purchased, the cost will be $372-a-year for insurance.
Klotz also feels confident that one of his officers -- Kevin Yates -- is a good fit to be the K-9 unit's handler.
Klotz believes with the thousands of vehicles that travel through Bridgeport, a K-9 unit would help lessen the drug trafficking. He adds a K-9 officer would help with the diffusion of potential threats and would help improve public relations.
K-9 officers add many positive aspects to law enforcement, as reflected in four Belmont County agencies. If one is financially feasible in Bridgeport, we believe the village would be wise to invest in a K-9 unit. They have proven to be a valuable commodity.