ROCK VALLEY—Jordan Kerr has always had pet dogs while growing up, but the Rock Valley Police Department officer has never worked with a crime-fighting K-9 unit.
That soon will change, however, as the police department announced plans to start its first K-9 program to assist in various aspects of the department’s work.
“It’s probably either going to be a lab or a golden retriever. The dog will be trained in narcotics and tracking,” Kerr said.
While all the area sheriff’s departments have K-9 programs, Rock Valley would be the first N’West Iowa police department to add a canine to its law enforcement roster.
Starting a K-9 program is something Kerr, who has been with the department for two years, said he has wanted to do for some time. After conversations with police chief Monte Warburton about it, Kerr said the department requested permission from the Rock Valley City Council in August to begin raising funds for the program.
The council granted permission in early September. Since then, Kerr said the department has applied for grants to fund the program and has asked city residents for donations they wish to make.
The dog will cost $8,000-$10,000 but already will be trained in narcotics detection and tracking techniques it will use while on patrol. Kerr said it will be 1-3 years old.
“That way it’s out of its puppy stage and it’s trained and fully ready to go and hit the streets,” Kerr said.
Besides helping detect narcotics and being used to help track suspects and missing persons, the department’s dog will assist with public relations and outreach efforts.
“One thing that gets overlooked a lot is the public relations tool with it,” Warburton said. “That dog will probably be the most-liked officer in our department.”
The department’s officers visit the city’s schools to assist with programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.). Having a dog there with them will help the officers show how police find drugs; it also will help them make a connection with the students.
“It helps bridge communications,” Warburton said. “Where some people are kind of shy to talk with officers, but they love dogs.”
The department will buy the dog from a K-9 unit vendor that specially trains dogs in law enforcement tasks, but Kerr said they have not yet selected a specific vendor. In addition to the dog, the K-9 program will need to buy equipment such as kenneling and a new patrol car for the dog to ride in.
After the department chooses the dog from a vendor, Kerr will complete a two-week handler training program to prepare him for working alongside a K-9 unit.
The dog will belong to the city of Rock Valley but will stay at Kerr’s when not on duty.
“I’ll be the canine handler and then when I go on duty, it will come out with me,” he said.
Although it will stay at Kerr’s home, he explained the dog will not be his pet.
“It’s more of a working dog, so it’s going to be living out in the garage. We’ll have a pen for it to be outside,” Kerr said.
The police department is hoping to start the K-9 program next year after it raises enough money for the dog and the necessary equipment.
So far, Kerr said the department has received a $1,600 donation from the Sioux County 911 Fund, $750 from Walmart and about $2,000 in individual donations.
Anyone wishing to donate may do so by making checks out to the Rock Valley Police Department K-9 Fund. Donations to the fund will be tax deductible.