BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Newly minted Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber told supervisors Monday that he didn’t want to come across as want…want…want, but he said a canine presence and two additional deputies would help set the department for high level operations.
At Monday’s Lee County Board of Supervisor’s budget workshop, Weber asked the board for the additional staffing including the dog as part of his annual budget submission for 2017-2018.
Weber indicated the dog would have upfront costs of about $20,000 including purchase, training of officers, and outfitting a vehicle to accommodate and protect the animal in high speed situations.
The dog would serve multiple functions including a search dog for criminals or citizens that have become disoriented and/or wandered away from loved ones. The dog would also serve to help identify narcotics in facilities and on potential criminals.
Weber said there are several breeds that work well in law enforcement but he said he would prefer a German Shepherd.
“We have spoken with one canine unit in Iowa, North Iowa Canine, and I spoke to them to get a ballpark figure with the dog and the training and of course the officer up in the hotel, this would be held in Fort Dodge, would be $14,000,” Weber said.
“I was approached by one of the industries in the county and they wanted to help out with that and when I told them the figure, they acted like that really wasn’t that big of a deal. So perhaps one of our local industries would be willing to step in and help with that.”
“I can tell you one particular night my phone rang and the family was worried because it was supposed to drop below freezing that night, we were able to get a ISP plane but it takes a while to fuel that up, but if we had a dog we could have reacted quicker.
Supervisor Ron Fedler, spoke to the value of the dog. When he was a guard at the ISP when an incident occurred in the gym where offenders had taken a couple of guards and the canine officer came and released the dog in the gym.
“They all just hit the ground. One dog took down 80 to 90 inmates in that situation. They are invaluable,” Fedler said. “I think it’s long overdue that the county have this.”
Weber said he was leaning heavily on the Shepherd.
“The reason I want a Shepherd is because they are bigger. I’ve seen other dogs, but they can grab the bad guys and they can kind of swing them around a bit, but you bring a full male Shepherd in here his back’s gonna reach this table and he’s gonna get your attention.
Weber said any dog in the county, he would want to have working hand in hand with ISP because they have the best training and award winning handlers. He said grants and individual donations and even possible industry commitments could help offset the costs of the Shepherd.
“Two small business owners have already contacted me and one said he would give me $500 and the other said $1,000. And the industry, one of the largest in Lee County, came to us. That was unsolicited.”
Weber said the second detective is necessary because they are not only doing work for the sheriff’s department but also the county attorney and the state’s attorney offices.
“Things aren’t the same as they used to be. And in most cases we’re working with less people in those departments and when the FBI’s involved you’re at their mercy.”
“I want a second detective on my department…let me rephrase that…I need a second detective on my department.”
Weber said he would back fill the department with two more deputies and promote a current deputy into the second detective position.
The board also heard from the Veteran’s Assistance and IT departments, the Board of Health, the Treasurer’s Department and Secondary Roads Department. The workshop continues tomorrow at 10 a.m. with a 10:30 board meeting to follow and then more workshops at 12:30.