Bourne Police are preparing to welcome their first ever police dog to the department.
“We need it; we’re constantly borrowing dogs from other towns and other departments, so it’s another tool we should have, but haven’t had,” Bourne Police Lieutenant Richard J. Silvestro said.
Lieutenant Silvestro said that Bourne police borrowed a dog from other police departments 35 times last year. He said that the majority of the department’s K-9 assistance comes from the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office, but they cover from Bourne to Provincetown, which can mean that a dog might not be available when they call.
He said that the dog would be used for narcotics detection, and then after the first year, it would be trained to do “friendly finds.”
“Kids that run away or get lost, or people with Alzheimer’s who wander off,” he explained, noting that the dog will not be used to track felons.
“A good narcotics dog is a necessity for all police departments,” Lieutenant Silvestro said.
Chief Dennis R. Woodside said that the only expense he expects the dog to generate is about $400 a year for dog food and the cost of whatever crate or equipment the dog’s handler will need to keep at home. One piece of equipment the department has free of charge is a cage that can fit into a squad car. It was given to Bourne police by the Yarmouth Police Department, Chief Woodside said. Officers have already picked it up and cleaned it.
Dr. Jonathan Leach of Leach Animal Hospital, 482 Main Street in Mashpee, has offered his veterinary services free of charge, the chief said.
Ken Ballinger, the assistant deputy superintendent at the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department, and head of that department’s K-9 unit, will be assisting Bourne police with setting up the K-9 program. Mr. Ballinger will also help to choose Bourne’s dog, which Lt. Silvestro said will be rescue dog.
“They won’t have to put it to sleep, it can come to work for us,” he said.
Lt. Silvestro said that because the department has recently increased its ranks, they are finally getting the manpower that will allow them to “start having special assignments a department this size should have.” He specifically mentioned having a K-9 unit, along with an increase in their detective squad and a bicycle patrol out there with the arrival of the new train service to the Cape.
“There are lots of things we need to do,” he said.
As for the breed of dog, Chief Woodside said that he thinks it will be a Labrador retriever or similar breed, and he was told that a dog 1 to 1 1/2 years old would be ideal.
Applications from those department members who would like to become the dog’s handler will be taken over the next month or so, while the dog is chosen and trained. Selection of the handler will not be made for another two to three months. Lt. Silvestro said that the department has seven new recruits fresh out of the academy, “so a lot of manpower is tied up in field training right now.” The handler has to be trained as much as dog, he said.
“I think we’ll name him something like “Fluffy,” the chief joked, declining to join officers who have named their dogs things like “Havoc” and then wondered why the public feared their use. The chief then said he will probably ask the town’s school children to help him choose a name for the dog.