Mundelein considering adding a police dog next year
Mundelein police plan to add a specially trained dog to the force for the first time since the 1970s.
The canine likely will be paired with an officer already on staff who's familiar with the community and department operations. The duo could be on the street by next summer, officials said.
"We'll pick from within and then hire a replacement cop for that one," said Trustee Ray Semple, who leads the village board's public safety committee.
Police Chief Eric Guenther and other proponents spoke to the village board about the plan Monday night. Trustees didn't vote on the matter but voiced support for moving forward.
Community donations and grants will help offset the cost of training and the ongoing costs related to having a dog on the job, such as food and veterinary care.
Money from the department's seized drug asset program also could be used to cover the duo's costs.
In a memo to the village board, Guenther said police dogs are particularly helpful when it comes to drug detection, searching for lost or missing people and catching criminals on the loose.
"I see this unit as what we call a force multiplier in law enforcement," Guenther told the Daily Herald. "The dog can do what it takes 10 officers to do."
Additionally, a visible police dog could be a deterrent for potential criminals and prevent potentially tense situations from escalating, officials said.
"Let's face it -- nobody wants to have to deal with a dog," Guenther said.
The dog and its handler would work as a support unit and not part of a traditional shift, he wrote.
Police dogs are most needed during the late evening and early morning hours, he said, so that's when the duo would be assigned to work.
"This is yet another piece of equipment, a tool, that we can utilize to be more efficient and effective at what we do," Guenther said.
Once a dog is purchased, it will be trained for 12 weeks. That period is followed by an eight-week training session for the dog and its handler, officials said.
Former Mundelein police officer Bob Plfug was the last officer to have a dog as a partner, Semple said. A dog handler during the Vietnam War, he teamed with an animal named Judge after returning stateside.
Wauconda, Buffalo Grove and Round Lake Park are among the Lake County towns with police dogs. Gurnee has two; Waukegan has five.
The Lake County sheriff's office has a canine unit, too.