Terry Crawford

Terry Crawford

After more than a year of discussion and some unforeseen obstacles, the city of Ringgold is nearing implementation of a K-9 Unit to its police department.

Late in 2015, Police Chief Dan Bilbrey proposed adding a K-9 to the department as a way of helping in drug cases, and was even able to secure donations to fund the project.

After purchasing the dog and getting the wheels in motion in the effort, the department experienced a setback when the officer assigned to the K-9 left the agency.

Now, the city has signed on a new officer taking over the K-9 by unanimously approving the funds to get that officer the needed training.

"We do have an opportunity to move forward with the initial K-9 we were looking at," Mayor Nick Millwood said. "We have an officer ready to do that. Funding for lodging and food while he's there at the training will be our only additional expense in doing this."

After the initial officer moved on from the department, the city entertained the idea of selling the dog, but instead opted to stick with it a little longer to see if another officer could take over.

"We have a lot of time and money invested in this, and there's a need there," said Mayor Pro Tem Terry Crawford. "Chief Bilbrey explained to us a lot about how we work with the county now and some of the steps in this. I think it will be beneficial to us. Down the road if something happens ... we have the same opportunity to possibly sell that animal again."

Councilman Larry Black, a former police officer, agrees that adding the unit could help the department in the long-term.

"This is a situation where we purchased a K-9 for our police department to be used, and we had turnover situation where the officer left, so now we have retained this dog and gone through a retraining period," Black said. "We now have another officer that chief Bilbrey feels like will be an asset to take the K-9 program that we'll use in the city for drug stops and that type thing. We do feel comfortable with this and we do support the K-9 program, so we're looking forward to getting this off the ground again with this second go-around."

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.