It would be nice if the Gloucester Police Department and other city officials didn’t see any need to bring on a second dog and K9 unit to step up the fight against the city’s drug trade.
The reality, however, is that there is such a need. And city residents owe a measure of thanks to interim police Chief Mike Lane and Patrolman Chris Genovese, who first proposed the project, for first bringing Mako and now a second dog named Trident onto the force.
Both Trident and Mako, who’s already on the job as a search dog with partner Genovese, are still undergoing training for their drug duty. But the justification for their coming on board is hard to dispute.
For one thing, the dogs can find things detectives can’t, note Genovese and Trident’s partner Patrolman Jerry Ciolino. Also, if police have reason to suspect the driver of a car they’ve stopped has used drugs or is carrying them, the dog, by walking around the car, can sniff out the presence of drugs inside, and that extends probable cause for searching the vehicle, Genovese said.
As to cost, each K9 unit is pegged at more than $12,000, Lane said — including the $6,200 cost of the dog along with equipment and supplies. Yet the bulk of all spending for this project is coming from money that the city has reeled in through drug seizures and forfeitures; the department participates in the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s task force, so the city gets a share of whatever the task force brings in.
That means that the money the department has reeled in through drug busts is going right back into the local drug war. That’s a very good and efficient use of money that, for once, doesn’t have to come out of taxpayers’ pocketbooks.
The Gloucester Police Department — under Lane and chief detective Lt. Kathy Auld, and in conjunction with groups such as the Healthy Gloucester Collaborative — has seemingly made strides in the local drug fight. But it is indeed a battle that can use, well, eight more legs on the streets, ready to track down drugs and dealers in a way that the officers themselves cannot.
To that end, we welcome Trident, Mako, and the commitment of Genovese and Ciolino to this important duty. This is a fight that Gloucester and its residents cannot afford to lose.