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Batavia seeks Federal funds to bring back a K-9 patrol to the city

By Howard B. Owens

It's been about two decades since Batavia PD had a dog patrolling the city with a qualified handler, but that could change if Federal asset forfeiture funds become available.

Chief Shawn Heubusch is asking the City Council to approve a memo of understanding with Homeland Security for the Federal agency to pay for the purchase and training of a K-9 and handler to work in the City of Batavia.

The new K-9 and its handler would be a member of the Batavia police force but on-call if Homeland Security needed K-9 officers for an operation.

Once the MOU is signed, it becomes a waiting game for funds to become available. Currently, by executive order, President Donald Trump is diverting asset forfeiture funds to the construction of a wall along a portion of the Southern U.S. border.

"This is just the very first step," Heubusch said. "This is not an imminent thing. We’re not going to have a K-9 next week. We’re not going to have a K-9 next month. This is something to get in line for the funding."

Under the terms of the agreement, once the funds become available, Homeland Security to cover the estimated $15,000 in purchase and training costs. The city would be responsible for any other costs associated with a K-9, such as outfitting a patrol car, leashes, food, and veterinary care.

Heubusch said he anticipates setting up a fund to receive donations from the community, much as the Sheriff's Office has done, to cover the additional K-9 costs.

While the Sheriff's Office is soon to have two K-9s on duty, and the Department of Environmental Conservation and State Police have K-9s in the area that sometimes assists local law enforcement, a K-9 in the City of Batavia would greatly enhance the Batavia PDs capabilities, Heubusch said.

"We have a great relationship with all of those agencies and they’ve all helped us out in the past, but you’re talking about response time to get to a situation," Heubusch said. "So if there’s a child missing or if there’s an elderly person missing, that’s time that is ticking away."

The last K-9 officer in the city was Ed Mileham, now retired, now a fire chief in Indian Falls. 

According to Heubusch, Mileham was taken off of K-9 duty when police unions across the state challenged the lack of overtime pay for K-9 handlers because the officers are often called upon to care for their animals while not officially on duty. 

Police departments across the state, Heubusch said, took their K-9s out of service at that point rather than pay overtime. 

If Batavia gets a new K-9, Heubusch told the council that Batavia will follow the example of the Sheriff's Office in providing handlers with time to care for their animals as part of their normal duty shifts.

Mileham said he supports Batavia trying to bring back K-9 patrols and noted, as have other police officers over the years, that "bad guys don't like K-9s."

Heubusch agreed.

"If you go to a scene and there’s a K-9 on scene, there’s a different demeanor from somebody you’re dealing with," Heubusch said.

Batavia's K-9 will be a patrol dog -- not specifically a drug dog or a bomb dog but a general patrol dog.

"It’s all about being able to provide the best service to the community that we possibly can," Heubusch said. "K-9s can be used in patrol interdiction, to get drugs off the street; they can be used in finding people, if you’ve got a lost loved one or somebody that wandered away, you can do tracking with them.

"If you look at (alarms), we respond to numerous burglary alarms in buildings. It takes two or three officers quite a while to clear a building. A K-9 can do it in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the risk."

david spaulding

been doing fine for 20 years without a dog, let's try another 20.... waste of time and money...besides doesn't Batavia have a military swat vehicle to keep everybody safe?

Apr 23, 2019, 5:17pm Permalink
John Roach

David, the argument can be made for or against the K-9 dog (I for one, like the idea), but we do not have the "SWAT" vehicle. The City is on a waiting list to get one.

Apr 24, 2019, 5:59am Permalink
Daniel Norstrand

Three hours after posting the city's quest for a sniffer dog and a bomb threat that calls for the evacuation and cordoning off of downtown. Complete with pics of a hero sniffer.

Apr 24, 2019, 1:06pm Permalink
david spaulding

John, I for one find the idea a waste of time and money. I feel safe where ever I go in Genesee county with out a police dog. Maybe you and your neighbors don't but that's ok. A lot of people in the city are scared.

Apr 24, 2019, 8:45pm Permalink
John Roach

David, then step up, buck up and personally attend the next Council meeting since this is not a done deal and state your opinion in person. Next meeting is May 13th, at 7 PM

Apr 24, 2019, 8:54pm Permalink
david spaulding

I may stand corrected as I believed I read the city of Batavia was all set to receive a MRAP military vehicle. A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Council was on board, were waiting for it to be decommissioned. Hope the waiting list is long on this one..

Apr 24, 2019, 8:58pm Permalink
John Roach

David (1) The City did approve getting an surplus MRAP, when one is available. At this time, the City is on a waiting list for one.
(2) The agenda is not out yet, but the K-9 will be on it as will the need for the City to upgrade its whole IT system. Sidewalk repairs should also be on it.
(3) You can bring anything up you want.

Apr 24, 2019, 9:17pm Permalink
Daniel Norstrand

Good comments David, it's not simply a waste of money. As I recall the last time Batavia had a k9 it was the basis for a lawsuit that cost the city some serious dough. And is the very reason why they did away with the one they had. Oh but that's not important information. LOLOLOLOL... head shake.

Apr 25, 2019, 11:41am Permalink

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