Cannelton may get drug dog, added officer

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Chief: Canine team has illegal drug users bypassing Tell City

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

CANNELTON - Cannelton Police Chief Eric Dickenson said the biggest concern voiced by people he talks to around town is illegal drugs, so he's seeking a dog to help detect them.

The Tell City Police Department has a canine team in Patrolman Derrick Lawalin and his dog, Jago, the chief said during regular meetings of the Cannelton Board of Public Works and Safety and Common Council Monday.

"It's rumored that people (involved in illegal drugs) are bypassing Tell City because of Derrick and Jago," he said. That city's police department is always willing to support Cannelton's officers who encounter people who may possess narcotics, and canine support also comes from the Indiana State Police.

Situations occur, however, when a canine team isn't available, he explained, and "case law is tightening," to shorten the time officers can detain suspects to await drug-sniffing backup.

"You can't keep people stopped, without stomping on their civil rights, waiting for a canine to show up," he said.

Dickenson said he should know by July 1 if a grant is approved to fund the purchase of a dog and training for it and a handler. Veterinarian Dr. William Schoene has agreed to provide support, he added.

The chief also showed the public-works board and council an 800-MHz radio, one of four the city received, funded by an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute Justice Assistance Grant of approximately $9,600.

He said three will go into police vehicles and one will be installed at the police department. The radios are intended to provide communications capabilities among a wide variety of state and federal agencies that could respond during events such as natural disasters that could require their services.

"If the Coast Guard comes into town, we'll be able to talk to them," he told the council.

The grant required a 25-percent match from the city.

A grant Dickenson sought that would have paid the costs of a police officer for three years was not approved, he said, but another is available to serve the purpose.

The U.S. Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services offers funding through its COPS Hiring and Recovery Program, but the city's application was denied there.

Those cities that were unsuccessful in obtaining funds through CHRP are eligible the Justice Department's COPS Hiring Program, Dickenson explained.

He and that agency's Web site reported that no new applications were accepted for CHP, and approximately 500 awards are to be made to those among the approximately 6,000 applicants unsuccessful in their first bid.

If Cannelton is successful, it will be responsible for paying the officer's fourth-year expenses.