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City of Altoona Police Department Plans to Reactivate Canine Program

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Mike Golat, City Administrator and Kelly Bakken, Police Chief

Altoona, WI. The City of Altoona's canine program is currently not active following the resignation of the City's former canine officer. At the time of resignation, both the city and the officer agreed it was in the dog's best interest to remain with the officer and his family.

The city intends to reactivate the canine program in the near future.  The police department is exploring options for acquiring a narcotics-focused canine rather than a dual purpose canine  trained in both apprehension and narcotics detection.  The decision to move towards acquiring a narcotic-specific canine was arrived at after reviewing past incidents of canine deployment along with handling and training requirements. Upon review, city staff concluded a single-purpose narcotics canine is the best fit for the city.

City leadership staff is also working with the police union to review the portion of the union contract that pertains to canine operations to be sure the contract works to best serve Altoona's residents while establishing fair working conditions for the future canine officer. The contract covers issues related to canine care time, canine officer work shift, training and other canine-related items.  The city, given its previous experience with a canine program, hopes to make changes to lend to more effective and efficient operations.  

The City hopes to reactivate the canine program within the next six months and wants to thank the community for the outpouring of support it has received since the inception of Altoona's canine program.