HomeMt Laurel NewsMt. Laurel Police Department looking to reinstitute K9 unit

Mt. Laurel Police Department looking to reinstitute K9 unit

After more than a decade of relying on other towns’ police K-9 units, the Mt. Laurel Police Department is looking at bringing a K-9 unit back to the township.

Mt. Laurel Police Chief Dennis Cribben proposed a plan to township council at last week’s meeting to bring a police K-9 back into the force. The police department has not had a K-9 since 2001.

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Cribben said a Mt. Laurel police officer recently purchased a Germen Shepherd and has begun training him in the K-9 police academy. The hope is for the dog to join the Mt. Laurel Police Department later this year.

“The officer has offered to donate this dog,” Cribben said.

Cribben’s proposal would reinstitute the K-9 program at very little cost to the taxpayer. He asked council to approve the creation of a trust fund allowing the program to be paid for through fundraising. The fundraising would allow the program to have very little impact on the police department’s budget.

In the last 14 years since the police department last had a K-9 officer, the police department has been forced to rely on other departments for K-9 services. When a K-9 is needed for a job, Mt. Laurel Police have received assistance from Evesham, Medford, Cherry Hill, Lumberton and Cinnaminson.

The police department uses K-9 units for jobs such as searching for a criminal suspect who may have run from the scene of a crime, a narcotics investigation or a search for a missing person.

Last year, Cribben said the police department requested a K-9 from another police department 49 times. With Mt. Laurel forced to rely on other municipalities’ units, it could take some time before they can respond. A few times, a K-9 unit was not available to assist.

“By the time we’ve gotten the K-9 out there, a criminal could be far from the scene,” Cribben said. “The time delays we’ve experienced are really hindering our service.”

The police department could receive assistance in addition to fundraising. Concord Pet Supplies has offered to provide the department with food and other supplies for the program. The Mt. Laurel Animal Hospital has also offered assistance for the dog’s health care.

Council and residents in attendance at last week’s council meeting were very supportive of the plan and applauded at the conclusion of Cribben’s presentation. Long-time resident Frank Juliano felt bringing back the K-9 unit would be a huge benefit to the township.

“I really like the idea of a dog,” he said. “Even if it saves just one life.”

Council plans to have a resolution implementing the trust fund as soon as April. If approved, the K-9 could join the police force as soon as August.

“Our goal is by Sept. 1 to have the dog actively working and doing a demonstration at Fall Festival,” Cribben said.

The police department is hoping the installation of one K-9 will just be the beginning for the department. Cribben wants the town to have a unit for many years to come.

“I’m hoping one dog will turn into multiple dogs,” Cribben said.

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