RED BANK: PD HOPES TO ADD K9 TO ROSTER

k9 A member of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s K-9 unit, called in to help find a burglary suspect on Windward Way in Red Bank two years ago. Patrolman Stan Balmer, below, has offered to train with and host a dog. (Photo by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

balmer 112211Over the two decades he’s been with the Red Bank Police Department, now-Chief Darren McConnell has wanted a dog. Not a pet, but a K-9, trained to sniff out drugs, suspects and missing persons.

For one reason or another, though, none of his predecessors got around to securing one.

Now, at the urging of one of his patrolmen, McConnell’s department is attempting to leash a four-legged sniffer, and do it without putting the cost on taxpayers.

McConnell tells redbankgreen that a dog is a “long overdue” necessity.

“At least several times a month,” he said, RBPD has to call in a dog from another jurisdiction, such as Tinton Falls or the Monmouth County Sheriff’s office, to search a car for drugs or accompany officers when executing a search warrant.

“We bring a dog on every one,” he said of the warranted searches.

Less frequently, dogs would be helpful in crowd control, he said.

Patrolman Stan Balmer recently revived the idea of te RBPD getting its own dog, and offered to undergo training with the animal and bring it home when they’re off-duty. Balmer joined the RBPD in 2011 after stints with  the Long Branch PD and the Monmouth sheriff’s office, McConnell said.

The cash-strapped borough, however, is not in a position to absorb the cost, McConnell said, so RBPD is following the lead of other police departments and trying the private fundraising route.

The biggest cost in the endeavor is an air-conditioned vehicle outfitted for the dog, McConnell said. A new one would cost about $40,000, but a used K-9 car might be had for about half that amount and be good enough to get the program rolling, McConnell said.

The dog itself could cost $7,000 to $10,000, and training for the officer and dog is estimated to cost about $2,000, he said.

While there’s no rush, McConnell said there’s an opening this fall in a training class in Long Branch, and that Balmer and a K-9 partner could be in it if an “absolute bare minimum $20,000″ is raised in coming weeks.

The department’s PBA arm has pledged to help out, and is running an online fundraiser. As of Thursday afternoon, $600 had been pledged.