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K-9 program pitched to city council, approved

The Sunnyside City Council last night (Monday) gave the go ahead to Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder to begin putting together a K-9 program for the city.

Radder, along with Sunnyside Police Officer Skip Lemmon, Kennewick Police Officer Brad Kohn, Prosser Police Officer Shane Hellyer and his K-9 Bosco, gave a presentation stating why the city would benefit from having a K-9.

Radder told the council there have been several occasions in the past few months where a K-9 would have been helpful, most notably the recent shootings at Rico's Tacos on Yakima Valley Highway. After researching the K-9 program Radder told the council he was completely sold on the idea.

The Sunnyside K-9 unit would be expected to assist school officials when conducting searches of school property for narcotics, support officers by providing a ready resource during field investigations of suspected narcotics violations, search a crime scene for evidence, facilitate the service of search warrants and assist other law enforcement agencies upon request and when authorized by interlocal agreement or department management.

The initial start-up cost for the program is expected to be approximately $71,830. The bulk of this amount is a 2010 Chevy Tahoe, which would cost the city $42,000. A mobile data computer system and an in-vehicle video system would up the vehicle's price to $52,200.

The K-9 is expected to cost $5,000 and the annual training and operational costs are expected to be $14,630.

Once the dog is purchased, it must complete 400 hours of training before the K-9 will be ready for patrol duty. An additional 200 hours is required to train the K-9 in searching for drugs.

Where the K-9 will get its patrol training is unclear at this time, but Officer Hellyer is qualified to train the K-9 in drug searches. The K-9 will also require eight hours of maintenance training once a month.

The council voted 7-0 to approve the program.

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