The oil slowdown has created less traffic on the roads and fewer tax dollars but has not decreased the number of service calls received by the Killdeer Police Department.
By Pam Kukla
For The DC Herald
Last year at this time the police dept. had received 296 calls, this year to date it has answered 863 calls which is a 191% increase. Two ways Police Chief Eric Braathen has chosen to handle this increase is with a K-9 unit and officer reservists.
“When people are at home and have nothing to do our department gets busy,” Braathen said about the increase in calls. “There is a lot of marijuana and meth around here, as well as strangers who are only here a few weeks and then gone,” he said. The K-9 unit and reservists are extra tools needed to answer calls.
Currently Killdeer doesn’t have a K-9 unit but is in the process of getting one. The German shepherd would be used as a drug dog primarily. “I don’t know if we will be looking at getting a dog trained as an attack dog or not. We are dealing with some pretty aggressive people but we are also looking at a dog for search and rescue,” said Braathen.
The dog would spend three weeks in training with his handler and would work only with that officer. The dog is viewed as a police officer. The dogs would start its service at around 1 ½ years and would “retire” after 6 to 8 years of service. “Wounding or killing a K-9 comes with a very stiff sentence,” said Braathen. The K-9’s life varies based on the dept. “Some big departments leave them in kennels at night, while others live with the handlers and their families,” he said. The Killdeer K-9 would live with its handler but its expenses like vet bills and food would be paid for by the police department. The K-9 unit also needs special equipment like a cage in the patrol vehicle.
The K-9 would be used in traffic stops, search warrants, school walk throughs and assemblies. The unit would be used by the Killdeer Police Department but would be available at no cost to other units and departments. As a drug dog, they are trained to detect the smells of different drugs and to signal to their handlers by either scratching or sitting down.
The average cost of training and purchasing a dog is $23,000. So far the department has received $3,000 in donations from the community to go towards the purchase and Braathen has applied for funds through an oil impact grant. Anyone wishing to make a donation, can contact the Killdeer Police Department.
Another tool currently in use to help with the increase in calls is an officer reservists program. A reservist is a volunteer who donates a minimum of 10 hours a month to support the current police officers. They receive the same training, carry the same equipment but haven’t attended the police academy so they aren’t licensed. Reservists mainly serve as back up for the officers and extra security at events. They are required to work with a licensed officer and have 60 hours of training every 3 years.
The department has two reservists right now and is looking at adding two more. “If someone is interested in law enforcement, this program is a good start. If we should have any openings, we would look at our reservists first to fill them,” Braathen said.
If you are 18 years or older and interested in the reservists program send your resume to Chief Braathen at PO Box 270, Killdeer, ND 58640.