Improving the tools and resources to help keep citizens safe is a continuing challenge for law enforcement agencies everywhere.
The Rockmart Police Department is asking the people it protects to make a personal investment in helping it in that fight.
Chief Randy Turner said they have restarted a fundraising campaign for the department to get its own K-9 program through donations from both private citizens and businesses.
“The goal, ultimately, is for us to have our own K-9 so we don’t have to rely on another department when we have a need for one,” Turner said. “But really it’s to serve our citizens. it’s not just all traffic stops. It would be a way to help us locate a missing child or person and locate drugs.”
Polk County Police and Cedartown Police both have a K-9 program, with each consisting of one handler and one dog. Turner said if his department starts a K-9 program it would ease the burden on the other K-9 units in the county and allow them to not be on call so often.
Turner said the campaign to raise funds for the new program is a way to have the community directly involved in bettering a public service instead of having to go to the city council and asking for more funding through the budget and, in turn, possibly raising taxes.
“We don’t want to burden every taxpayer with this and we would love to have people come out for this who want to help and are glad to help by donating what they can,” Turner said. “We appreciate any help we can get.”
Turner said they have estimated the cost of starting the program at around $25,000, which would include the price of the dog, training of both the dog and the handler, equipment such as a kennel, required patrol vehicle upgrades for transport of the K-9 and veterinary services.
Many departments have K-9 programs funded by money seized in drug arrests and drug busts that are due to a K-9 unit. Turner said he believes that would be the end goal for their program, but without that to start with they are taking this approach
The department actually began pursuing the idea of raising money for a K-9 program about a year and a half ago, Turner said. But when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the country last March they decided to put it on hold.
“We didn’t feel comfortable going out and asking for donations when people were in jeopardy of losing their jobs and having to deal with all of the hardships that came along with the pandemic,” Turner said.
Now, with vaccines being rolled out and transmission of the coronavirus on a downward projection, Turner is hoping they will be able to see this goal through to fruition.
Donations can be made at the Rockmart Police Department in the Rockmart Municipal Complex at 316 N. Piedmont Ave. Donors will be provided a receipt.
A post on the Rockmart Police Department’s Facebook page last promoted the campaign and its benefits.
“We believe a well-trained K-9 unit will be a great asset to the safety of our community,” the post read. “And in retrospect, what is the monetary cost compared to the first missing child or endangered person that could be safely located with the implementation of this program.”