FARMINGTON -- In a rare 2-to-1 vote, the Davis County Commission reluctantly decided on Tuesday to apply for a $7,500 federal grant to give the Davis County Sheriff's Office its fifth working canine unit.
If approved, the grant, which is to be issued through the state, will pay for a drug-sniffing dog and the training needed for a deputy to handle the animal.The canine unit is needed because municipalities, likely because of finances, are no longer replacing the canines their respective police agencies are having to retire, said Keith Major, business manager for Davis County Sheriff's Office.
But County Commissioner Bret Millburn had a bone to pick with such a rationale, saying the commission was not given the notice needed to budget for what will be an ongoing expense, and the county's cost should be shared among police agencies using the dogs.
"(The cities') costs are going away, and we are picking up those costs," Millburn said.
Based on that, Millburn cast an opposing vote.
Major said that discussion needs to be directed at the city council, or mayor level.
The sheriff's office spends about $14,000 a year to care for and maintain the four canines it currently has, Major said.
"This would be adding a fifth," he said.
"How many dogs are enough?" Millburn quizzed Major.
The county has such a good canine program, Davis municipalities have decided to let them run with it, said Davis County Sheriff's Sgt. Brent Peters, who during the commission meeting came from the audience to stand next to Major, who was making his pitch from the podium.
The canine units, one unit scheduled per shift, are used multiple times each day to help with the apprehension of those involved with drug trafficking, said Peters, who in January will become a chief deputy to County Sheriff-elect Todd Richardson.
"The drug arrests have skyrocketed because of the use of these dogs," Peters said.
County Commissioner Louenda Downs said she is a great advocate of having the dogs at their disposal like any other law enforcement tool, but can see where there may be some budgetary questions down the road should the county receive the grant.
Millburn said he is frustrated with the timing of this particular grant request.
There are a number of times when the sheriff's office receives short notice on grant applications and must act immediately, Major said of the limited notice.
County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. said he was reluctant to approve the grant application.
"I don't want to grow government," Petroff Jr. said.
Petroff Jr. said he envisions that associated costs to maintain the canine would do just that.
One of those costs will be the $2,000 the sheriff's office will spend on equipping one of its vehicles with a canine kennel.
But in weighing cost concerns with the needs of public safety, Petroff Jr., along with Downs, approved the sheriff's office applying for the grant.
"I want our guys to be the best-equipped out there," Petroff Jr. said.