The K-9 aspect of the Knox City Police Department may soon be a thing of the past, as K-9 Marco’s current handler, Chad Keen, is leaving the department and Police Chief Clint Norem said there is no one in the department interested in undergoing the training or taking on the extra responsibilities that being a K-9 handler entails.
Norem told the city council last night that Keen is leaving by Dec. 1 for a new position in Logansport, and he will be leaving Marco with the department. Because Keen is the only handler for the department, Norem said they would need another handler in order to use the animal. As of right now, Norem said the dog is not being used to its full potential, and they’re spending more than $50 a month on its upkeep. On top of that, handlers are paid a half-hour overtime each day for the care of the animal, and that’s causing an issue with the overtime budget.
The council discussed the possibility of selling the dog to another department or even gifting it to Keen, but City Attorney David Matsey said that’s not an option. Because any items that are valued over $1000 must go through several steps in order to be sold, he said the animal cannot simply be given away or sold.
To further complicate matters, Marco had in the past been diagnosed with lyme disease, which would lessen the animal’s desirability to other departments.
Norem said the K-9 program could be very beneficial if utilized correctly, but because of the funding issues and the fact that the department is already shorthanded, they cannot make use of the animal’s training and abilities.
Mayor Rick Chambers told Norem to contact the kennel from which the city originally purchased the dog to see if they could shed some light on Marco’s estimated value and they can then begin the process of deciding what to do with him.
The Knox City Police Department is not the first department in the state to undergo these issues. Norem said that the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department has already abolished their K-9 program due to costs and liability issues.
The matter will likely be discussed further at the council’s next meeting on Nov. 27.