City to beef up force with K-9 unit

By Andrea Cordle
Southwest Editor

The Grove City Division of Police plans to add a new officer to the force this year, and this one has a real nose for crime.

Police Chief Steve Robinette said the time has finally come for a canine officer in Grove City.

“We have discussed this for quite a while and decided now was the time,” said Robinette.

According to Robinette, retail theft is on the rise in the city and that theft is largely to support drug habits. He said officers see a lot of opiates, marijuana and prescription drugs in the city.

The canine officer would be part of a directed patrol unit. Its job would be to assist with the drug issue, by sniffing out drugs and tracking in the event of a missing person or fleeing suspect.

William Vedra, the city’s safety director, said drugs and theft are a growing issue in the city.

“The canine will add a new capability to better protect our community,” Vedra said. “It will improve safety, security and quality of life for residents.”

Up to this point, the city had used canine officers from other municipalities.

“We have been fortunate to  have one available when needed,” said Robinette.

The police chief said the number of times the department has requested canine assistance has increased. He said they use canine officers from Franklin County, the city of Columbus, Hilliard and Ohio State University.

Police canines come at a cost. Robinette said there would be a start-up cost, which includes several thousand for the dog itself. He said the department already has to purchase new vehicles and they would pick one as the canine unit. He said he anticipates the cost around $20,000.

Vedra said after the initial purchase of the dog and the special equipment needed, the operational costs are not too bad. He said the city would set aside funds for care, like feeding and medical costs for the dog.

Last week, members of the police department had a meeting to begin the process of acquiring the dog.

Robinette said the department would have to select an officer to pair with the canine. That officer would have several weeks of training with the dog and the breeder. The officer chosen would also have to live with the dog and care for it.

The dog and the handler will need certification and the pair will have to complete in-service training every few weeks, just like traditional police officers.

The safety director said this is a commitment for the city.

“This is big endeavor in many ways,” said Vedra. “There is a lot that goes into it, but it will be a nice compliment for the police force.”

Robinette said the department plans to start with one canine unit and “get their feet wet.” He said if it is successful, he would consider bringing on additional canines.

“We are optimistic and hopeful this works,” said Robinette.

The chief said he hopes to have the canine working this summer.

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