Seeking a helping paw


To help reduce crime and drug problems, the Crothersville Police Department hopes to start a K9 program.

Capt. J.L. McElfresh recently shared cost and other information with the town council.

The town has never had a K9 officer.

“The increased crime not only in our community but nationwide is driven by the drug world,” McElfresh said. “People become addicted to drugs, and then they will do anything to get the money to buy their next fix. If they can’t sell the items they break into houses to get, they will trade them for drugs.”

That has caused the increase in thefts, burglaries and other similar crimes, he said.

“Unfortunately, we will never be able to completely stop the drug networks, but with a K9 program, we hope to slow it down,” McElfresh said.

McElfresh and Chief Brent Turner recently were talking about the drug problem in the community and nationwide, and they brought up the possibility of Crothersville getting a narcotics dog to help.

McElfresh, who is interested in being the handler, then began researching the different options and cost to start a K9 program. He and Turner talked to a few council members about it, and they expressed interest in it, too.

In talking to a couple of other officers, McElfresh learned about Universal K9 Inc. in San Antonio, Texas, offering a two-week training program.

That organization partners with Animal Farm Foundation Inc., which works to secure equal treatment and opportunity for pit bulls. Through that partnership, a police department can get a narcotics dog for free.

“This gives Crothersville an opportunity to take a rescued dog and turn it into a narcotics dog,” McElfresh said.

The police department would have to cover the cost of sending McElfresh to the training.

An insert for the back seat of the police car to allow room for a dog and someone who is arrested also would be needed. That costs about $2,600.

A heat alarm system that prevents an officer from leaving the dog in a hot car costs nearly $3,000, but McElfresh said that may be covered through a grant program that collects donations to help small police departments. The alarm system pops the car door open and sets off the sirens and lights.

The department also would have to cover food costs and veterinarian bills. McElfresh said there are a couple of options to get free food, and he only expects veterinarian bills to be for regular checkups or other needed care for the dog.

McElfresh also would need a kennel for the dog at his home.

Altogether, he expects the cost to be between $8,000 and $10,000.

The council plans to look into the program a little more and discuss it further during the next meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. April 4 at Crothersville Town Hall.

If it’s approved, McElfresh would schedule handler training.

“A K9 program would benefit Crothersville greatly,” he said. “The police department would gain another valuable tool in its battle against the drug problem in our community. The K9 program and drug interdiction are great ways to help slow the drug networks coming into and out of Crothersville.”