Police dog Titus not tough enough for Sequim
As the sun sets each night in September, Portlanders flock to Chapman school to watch the Vaux's swifts swirl & roost in the school's big brick chimney. via The Oregonian
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#1 Sep 16, 2007
As the Chief of Police in Sequim, WA, I can tell we hit a nerve, and the recent news articles entitled:‘Titus Losing His Job as Sequim Police K-9’,‘Police dog Titus not tough enough for Sequim’, and other variations.
Sequim, WA is a small city of 6,000 residents and a service population of about 23,000 that is located 60 miles to the NW of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula.
The Sequim Police completed a 5-year strategic plan in 2006 that document is available on-line at: www.ci.sequim.wa.us If we follow our Strategic Plan which was developed with a lot of input including the involvement of our K-9 Handlers, the agency will migrate to a generalist patrol dog unit with dogs coming on in 2008, 2009 and a 3rd unit in 2011.
The 'surplus' designation is merely a legal hoop the police department has to jump through in order to have the ability to transfer ownership of Titus to another police agency. Please recognize that every member of the Sequim Police Department considers Titus to be much more than the legal definition of property or surplus might entail - he is a member of our Department and like some police officers who lateral or move to another department or retire, we are committed to doing the right thing for Titus and on his behalf.
Traditionally when the Sequim police 'surplus' or retire a K-9 the agency would go through this same process of 'surplusing' the K-9 by the City Council and then allowing the handler to take custody of the dog – in essence, retirement. The Sequim Police did that with K-9 'Huey' who lived with his former Handler Sgt Campbell until his recent passing. In the case of 'Titus' since he is still a viable working dog the police department is looking toward Titus’ continued use in the law enforcement community as a drug dog. The police department would not normally look to place Titus or any other trained K-9 with a family since his unique skill set could also be used for unlawful purposes should he fall into the wrong hands.
So this legal step in getting authority to 'surplus' Titus is more of a technical first step. There is still significant work to be done, which was identified in our 2012 Policing Plan that recommended that the police move toward staffing a patrol K-9 concept in 2008. Those are very tentative dates based on a combination of a growing call load, available resources, etc.
Merely transferring Titus to another officer like our School Resource Officer is not practical because we would still need to meet the K-9 Handler training requirements to field the dog on duty. And because of our current staffing of 22 police officers, we can not maintain Titus plus and additional K-9 because of the sheer costs that are involved. Training a K-9 Handler (police officer) is a huge investment that includes a ten-week training cycle for a patrol K-9 (this includes lodging and meal costs plus several hundred hours of patrol overtime to cover the shifts of the officer while he/she was away for training,- roughly $30,000 which includes overtime costs to cover open shifts created by the K-9 officer being out of town for certification training over 10 weeks). Our Union contract also requires that 1 extra hour of overtime be approved every day for K-9 maintenance and training - an additional yearly cost of about $6,000.
For the immediate future K-9 'Titus' will continue to work the streets of Sequim. To learn more about our K-9 Program please visit our web site at: www.ci.sequim.wa.us/police .
Robert Spinks, MA, MS
Chief of Police
Sequim (WA) Police Department
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