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Joplin Police Union Warns of City Hall's K9 Proposal - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Police Union Warns of City Hall's K9 Proposal

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Joplin, MO -

The Joplin Police Union criticizes a proposal to reduce the city's K9 force.  Earlier this week, Joplin's finance director proposed, among other things, reducing JPD's K9 roster from five to three.  Joplin's police and fire unions have been at odds with city officials for some time over salary issues.  The city manager has previously said there's a tight budget.

The base of this K9 proposal is phasing out two K9 officer positions after those dogs have retired, bringing an annual savings of $22,500.  That figure aside, Joplin Police Union president warns...

"You're in essence taking two officers off the street," says Shelby Howard.

Joplin's five K9 officers were dispatched about 400 times last year, helping to seize more than 5,000 grams of narcotics, more than 1,000 grams of marijuana, more than 1,000 grams of meth, 11 grams of cocaine, 7 grams of rock cocaine, and paraphernalia items.

"Four of our dogs are narcotics apprehension dogs, then we have the one explosives apprehension," says Howard.

The JPD says their explosives detection K9 is used regionally.

We asked Joplin's City Manager Sam Anselm if he thought this reduction in JPD's K9 roster would impact community safety.  He sent us a statement, also referencing a budget meeting earlier this week by saying, "...if our community's goal is to put the city on solid financial footing that allows us to put a sustainable pay plan into place for all employees, then all of the options presented will need to be considered at some point."

Howard maintains if the community's goal is good public safety, then police and firefighter needs should be first.

"There's a lot of narcotics that we would be missing.  A lot of potential apprehensions that we could be missing.  Services to the citizens are cut when we can't take drugs off the streets," says Howard.

Last year, Joplin's K9 team participated in 266 narcotic related searches, in which contraband was located 180 times.

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