Officer Scarlett out of the doghouse

It looks like Officer Scarlett may be out of the financial doghouse after all and put to work on the West Tawakoni Police force.

Scarlett is a Malinois-German Shepherd mix canine, trained as a police dog.

Chief of Police Brandon Kilpatrick received a favorable response Thursday night from the city council for adding a K-9 unit to his department at a budget hearing on next fiscal year’s finances.

Kilpatrick brought the animal to the attention of the council in April when Officer Menz, K-9 officer and training coordinator with the Lewisville Police Department, offered Scarlett, valued at $7,000, to West Tawakoni at no charge.

The council had not yet decided to fund the $10,000 cost in next year’s budget for needed equipment, officer training for K-9 handling and related expenses. The consensus expressions of support Thursday night were not official but expected to be carried over into final approval of next year’s budget.

Interest in acquiring the dog was expressed at another budget hearing earlier in the week, and Police Chief Kilpatrick confirmed after that meeting the animal was still available for West Tawakoni.

West Tawakoni Officer Hillary Bateman agreed to assume duties and go through training for the K-9 service.

Kilpatrick estimated the time required for training and preparations would put Officer Scarlett into actual service in about April or May 2018.

Discussion on Scarlet’s acquisition was part of a larger discussion on the police department’s budget for next year.

Councilman Alan Shoemake lobbied intensely for not only adding the K-9 unit to the department but for also adding another police officer. The department has three paid officers and four reserve officers.

When questioned on his support for adding the K-9 unit now and waiting until some months later to see if the animal’s efforts could bring in additional income in the form of seizures, Shoemake said, “Given that same scenario, I’ve heard that option being portrayed out there several times when it was being told to the police department, ‘Okay, if you get your citation budget up to this, you are definitely going to have that fourth police officer.’ They exceeded that and still did not get their fourth police officer, so that’s been told to us several different times, and it has not worked out that way.”

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