Print Cottonwood police apply for K-9 training
Written by Greg Ruland   
Sunday, 05 June 2011 00:00

Cottonwood police applied for a $4,600 grant to pay the cost of sending two officers and the department’s drug-sniffing dog, Rio, to an eight-week training course in Tucson.

Funds will also be used to pay some ongoing veterinary costs.

The training comes about eight months after the department’s other drug-sniffing dog, Dakota, died of sunstroke in October.

Sgt. Brian Campbell, who was suspended for two days as a result of the dog’s accidental death, received a promotion shortly before the incident and no longer serves as a K-9 officer.

Rio and officer Cory Shilling, Rio’s handler, were recertified during a weeklong course they took shortly after Dakota’s death. Rio had been retired for a short time before the animal died.

“Officer Shilling and Rio took a week crash course in October of last year to get certified, so officer Shilling and Rio will also be attending this training to further their skills as a K-9 Unit and to get recertified,” the grant application states.

The city wants to be active in stopping illegal drug activity. K-9 units play a big part in illegal drug enforcement, according to the application.

Chief Jody Fanning appointed officer Nathan Dorfman as the new K-9 officer and is in the process of selecting a new drug-sniffing dog. When the selection process is complete, both handler and canine will be to attend training for certification.

There is no charge for the training or the lodging, but the officers will be responsible for meals and transportation to the training. The funding request is for the costs of the meals and for the cost of the fuel for two officers to attend.

Maintaining the K-9 unit has been an ongoing project since the K-9 unit was started about 20 years ago. Throughout the years, Yavapai County helped subsidize the purchase, training and veterinary care of dogs.

The grant asks for expenses expected for attending the training, but also to help with continuous training and veterinary care for the ongoing K-9 units.

Cottonwood always makes its K-9 available for other agencies in the Verde Valley, Fanning told council.

The department’s K-9 units also do drug education through the local schools and special events. Many times these demonstrations are a collaboration with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Yavapai County Substance Abuse Coalition.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of drug activity in the Verde Valley, but there is a shortage of K-9 units. Currently, there are only three to serve the 200-square-mile area of incorporated and unincorporated land, with a population of approximately 56,000, Fanning said.

The K-9 units can help slow down drug activity, but with only three available for searches, the addition of one more will be a great benefit, the application states.