The Conroe Police Department plans to add a K-9 unit and might bring on a second one with the help of VFW Post 4709 in Conroe.
The post, along with the Conroe Police Officers Association, will host the fundraiser at noon Saturday in hopes of raising money for the second dog and possibly a vehicle. The Police Department has committed to funding one K-9 officer and vehicle.
Former K-9 officer Cassie was a narcotics dog and retired about eight months ago, said Conroe Police Sgt. Mark Walls, a member of the Conroe Police Officers Association.
“That left us without a K-9,” he said. “I spoke with the chief about it and (the department) is on board with getting a couple of K-9s.”
The Police Department already has one vehicle equipped to handle a K-9 unit, as well as the funding to purchase and train the dog.
However, a second unit would require another vehicle at a price tag of around $55,000, plus the expense of purchasing and training the dog (around $12,000 to $14,000).
While the department has funds, there are also other priorities that need to be addressed with the money, according to the Police Department.
Walls said having a second unit would help spread the workload.
“If we just have one dog, it is a strain on the officer to be available 24/7,” he said. “With two, we have much better coverage.”
Gary Bridges, post commander for the VFW Post 4709, said several of the post’s members are police officers and the organization is happy to help.
“Having a police department the size of Conroe and a city the size of Conroe that doesn’t have a K-9 unit at all is really bad.” Bridges said. “(K-9s) are very useful.”
Bridges said he is confident the fundraiser will be successful. In the past, the VFW has raised up to $40,000 during one event. He donated the use of the facilities, located at 1303 W. Semands, while local grocery stores have donated the food and other items. Barbecue plates will be $8, and there will be raffles, a cake walk, a live auction and a silent auction.
“I think we are going to have a big day,” he said. “People are very generous.”
Wall said he is happy to have the help of the VFW and the funds would help get the department the dogs that could specialize in different areas, such as tracking and holding or narcotics.
A K-9, he said, would be beneficial in tracking missing children or elderly, as well as tracking more dangerous suspects. In addition, a K-9 officer would be key in detecting narcotics during traffic stops.
“If we have reasonable suspicion that a subject may have drugs in the car but won’t give us consent to search, we can use the dog to run around the vehicle and if the dog alerts on the car, it gives us probable cause to enter the car and search the vehicle for drugs,” he said.
The process to get the dogs on board and on duty will take several months, Walls said. The dogs and the handler must both go through training together and kennels for the dogs have to be built at the handler’s home.
“It’s a process,” he said. “It won’t be overnight. We want this to be a successful program, we want it to work and we want it to work properly.”