Porterdale officials may allow a police sergeant to use a city vehicle transport and train a new drug dog off duty until a lease agreement can be reached between the officer and the city.
City manager Bob Thomson, pending the city attorney's approval, would give Sgt. Jason Cripps permission to transport his 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, Nina, to various spots around the county for drug and tracking training, city officials said Thursday.
"She's just sitting in her cage now," Cripps, Porterdale's K9 handler, told the mayor and two City Councilors.
Cripps said Nina is about "80 percent" ready for certification. Once she gets certified, she will be put on duty, allowing Beau, the department's current K9 officer, to go into "semi-retirement," Cripps said.
At a work session Thursday evening, City Councilors reviewed an agreement between the city and Cripps that would lease Nina to the city for police dog work for a period of one year for $1. The city would have four additional one-year options, which will automatically take effect unless the city gave Cripps 30 days' notice.
The city would agree to pay for National Narcotic Detector Dog Association and North American Police Work Dog Association certification fees and costs associated with one NAPWDA annual training seminar.
Porterdale would also pay "the expense of usual and ordinary veterinary care, including annual maintenance," according to the lease agreement.
Mayor Bobby Hamby called a special City Council meeting earlier in the week to be held right after the Thursday work session to approve the K9 lease and to approve a new drug paraphernalia ordinance. However, the special meeting had to be cancelled because two City Councilors - Robert Foxworth and Mike Harper - did not attend.
Because the council did not have enough members to take any official action, councilors asked Thomson to allow Cripps, pending approval of the city attorney, to use his cruiser to continue training Nina until the lease can be approved by the full council.
At a city candidate forum Oct. 25 at the Porterdale Mill Lofts, residents questioned Foxworth about his support for the police K9 program in general and Nina in particular.
"I do support the dog," Foxworth said at the forum. "I have some questions that I want answers to for the new dog. And this ain't the right time to answer them."
Foxworth did not go into further detail at the forum and did not return phone messages Friday and Saturday seeking further information about his questions and views of the K9 program.
A former "pound puppy," Beau is 8 or 9 years old and has worked for Porterdale Police for about five years, Cripps said. The sergeant has been his handler for four years.
"Beau is a social dog, and that's the kind of dog we should have in this community," Cripps said.
Once Nina is certified and officially on the force, Beau will become an "ambassador," attending functions such as elementary school or civic talks about drugs, Cripps said.
Cripps acquired Nina a year ago from a police dog handler in Cobb County, he said.