Athens Police Department adds K-9 unit
The Athens Police Department is revamping its ranks and adding a K-9 unit.
The dog's name is Aric, and he is currently in training.
Athens City Manager Seth Sumner says it has been a big year for the city's police force.
Resources have been expanded and now will include the city's first K-9 in two decades.
Sumner explained, “if we look out over a year ago, we had kind of how shallow the organizational structure was; we did not participate in the drug task force. We did not have a K-9 unit. We were in need of an extra detective, and we did not have a student resource officer."
Sumner believes with all these tools available, the department can better serve the community.
The program is being funded by the city's general fund and a separate drug fund.
Aric and his new handler will be a part of the drug task force used to detect illegal drugs.
Although the area hasn't seen a spike in drug-related crimes, Sumner says it's still a useful tool to have.
"This dual-purpose dog will be able to detect a broad range of narcotics and illegal drugs. As law enforcement gets heavier in pursuing a certain type of narcotic, drug dealers usually move to a different type. It's a supply and demand, and it's the market, so it's always changing,” Sumner added.
According to Sumner, the city has not had a K-9 unit on the force since the 1990's.
Sumner hopes adding more specialized units and training will increase the department's retention rate.
"So we are not just heavy on patrol, but we have folks that have specialized training and tools that are dedicated to fighting the real crime that happens in the community with theft, drug use and abuse."
After Aric and his handler complete a six-week course, they will be ready to hit the streets.
The department plans to add additional specialized units in the future.
The cost of all these additions will be covered by the city's savings.