It has been more than 15 years since the Colusa Police Department has had a canine officer on the force, but that is set to change sometime around October.
The Colusa Police Department recently established the Colusa Police Officer’s Canine Association, a non-profit organization that is tasked with raising the funds to support of a new canine program at the department.
“Our goal is to deploy another K-9 to serve the citizens and law enforcement in Colusa and the surrounding community,” said Chief Josh Fitch. “They are a very valuable resource not only for their obvious abilities in protection and drug detection, but also as a deterrent for would be criminals. The mere presence of a well-marked K-9 unit is a strong crime deterrent.”
Spearheading the reestablishment of a canine program has been officer Chad LeBlanc, who will also serve as the handler for the police dog. It will be trained both for detection and apprehension, and will live full-time with him.
“I have always wanted to do it — this has been a career goal of mine,” LeBlanc said. “The driving force has been us not having one for so long, and the service it could provide to the community.”
So far, the community response has been positive. Colusa Rotary has pledged its continued support of the program, offering to donate $1,000 as long as there is a dog in service.
“We feel that it’s just part of police work nowadays, with all the drug and things, and it’s a benefit to have it as a presence,” said Colusa Rotary President Randy Salveson. “It’s a tool, and it’s a tool we should have – we’re a big enough town to support it. It’s a pretty safe town we live in, and I’d like to see it stay that way.”
“The K-9 will be a great addition to our department and our community, helping to get drugs off of the streets, and protecting our officers and community members,” Fitch said.
Beyond the K-9’s role in stopping and deterring crime, the Colusa Police Department sees the dog as a mechanism for community outreach, particularly in the schools.
“I believe the K-9 will also be excellent for community outreach. Giving presentations in the schools and to the community will help us to more effectively interact with the public and further our relationship within the community,” Fitch said.
The community’s involvement is an important component in the program, Fitch said. While department received a $10,000 grant from the Sean M. Walsh K9 Memorial Foundation, the Colusa Police Officer’s Canine Association is going to need additional funds to cover the cost of equipment, officer and canine training, and other ongoing costs such as veterinary services and food. Those costs will largely be covered by donations and will require the community’s support to be successful.
“The association runs 100 percent on donations. Anything over the amount needed will continue to be put into the program and will go on for the life of the dog,” LeBlanc said. “The donations have been coming in, but more are needed.”
LeBlanc commented that donation forms have been sent out to a number of individuals and businesses already, and can be obtained upon request. “I’m easily accessible for questions and comments,” He said.
LeBlanc and the Colusa Police Officer’s Canine Association can be contacted at (530) 458-7777.