PORTERDALE -- The City Council is considering a lease agreement under which the city would lease a K-9 officer from one of the city's police officers, who is also the K-9 handler.
Sgt. Jason Cripps has offered to lease his dog, Nina, a 2-year-old Belgian malinois, to the city for a term of five years at $1 per year. Cripps is the handler for Porterdale's current K-9 officer, Bo, who is getting old and is unable to continue to work as he has in the past. Cripps told the council at a work session Tuesday night that he would continue to use Bo as an ambassador for the city in school and other demonstrations as he believes this type of outreach is "priceless" for the city.
Cripps told the council Tuesday that Nina should be completely trained as a full service dog by January. A full service dog is one trained as a tracking, drug detection and apprehension dog. Bo is primarily a drug detection dog.
Cripps also said that he is proposing to lease his dog to the city because he wants to see Porterdale's K-9 program continue even when Bo is too old to work. Purchasing a new, trained K-9 would cost the city $10,000 to $12,000, he said.
"It boils down to do you love this town, do you want to give everything you've got to it," he told the council. "And I do."
The lease agreement stipulates that Cripps and Nina will work as a team. Should Cripps' or Nina's employment with the city be terminated, the lease states that Cripps would have the right to seek employment with Nina at any other jurisdiction of his choosing with no interference from the city.
Cripps gave a presentation to the council Tuesday in which he said that the city's K-9 program has benefitted the city in monetary as well as law enforcement aspects. Cripps said that Bo has participated in 28 misdemeanor arrests in Porterdale between 2008 and year-to-date 2011. He said that net revenue from those arrests was $19,600. He also said that Bo had participated in a DEA drug seizure in 2009 that netted the city $45,500. The dog has been deployed 177 times in the past three years in multiple jurisdictions, Cripps said, and participated in 15 felony arrests.
Cripps told the council that if the city leases his dog Nina, the cost to the city would be $451 per year, not including the $7,072 he receives annually as compensation for handling the K-9. Cripps said this includes the $1 for the lease, $300 for certifications, and $150 for veterinary medications. Cripps told the council that he is able to get dog food donated for the K-9.
The city pays its K-9 handler for 16 hours per pay period -- there are 26 pay periods per year -- for a total of 416 hours. Cripps' rate of pay is $17 per hour.
Under the proposed lease, the city would be responsible for the dog's vet care, any additional equipment required for the dog and handler, and two professional certifications each year.
The lease agreement also calls for the city to provide for a $10,000 life insurance policy for Nina, payable if the dog is killed in the line of duty. Cripps would be listed as the beneficiary. However, city officials said Tuesday that the city's insurance company would not cover a dog that is not owned by the city. Cripps said Friday he would include Nina under his homeowner's insurance policy at no cost to the city.
Expenditures for Porterdale's K-9 Unit for 2008, 2009, 2010 and year-to-date 2011, obtained through an Open Records request, show that the city has spent $12,116.75 outfitting vehicles, purchasing equipment and providing food, vet care and training for the K-9 Unit. More than $8,000 of that total was spent in 2008 when the city received Bo as a donation from another Georgia city. Recurring annual expenditures include professional membership dues of $90 for the K-9; professional training for the dog at $225 in 2009; and professional training for Cripps that was $330 in 2009, $305 in 2010 and $200 in 2011. The city also purchased a life insurance policy for Bo at $500 each year in 2010 and 2011.
Veterinary care for Bo totaled $141.80 in 2009 and $157 in 2010. No expenditures were shown for 2011.
The council agreed Tuesday to review the lease agreement again at a work session on Oct. 27 after the city attorney has made any necessary changes.