LAKEWOOD - After much discussion the Lakewood Village Board approved a K-9 unit at its Monday board meeting.
John Bentley, Lakewood-Busti Police chief, has been pushing hard for the K-9 unit since his department was approved for a $59,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security, which he applied for in August.
"I am just very pleased they accepted," Bentley said. "I'm looking forward to having another tool to use."
The grant gives Lakewood a bomb-sniffing canine and a sport utility vehicle in which to transport it. The bomb-sniffing dog can be crossed trained as a patrol and tracking dog, which will be useful at a crime scene to find firearms and gun shell casings. The grant will cover the costs of the training for the canine. Since the handler would be an officer already in the department, and the vet services and food are free, there would be no additional cost.
Although the Homeland Security Department will provide a yearly $20,000 stipend to maintain the unit, this money - like any other federal grant - is not guaranteed every year and can be affected by budgetary constraints.
Bentley is currently collecting donations to get a narcotics dog for the unit sometime in the future. Individuals interested in donating to the cause, can either drop by the Lakewood-Busti Police Station or send a check to the Lakewood-Busti Police Department with K-9 unit written in the memo line at 20 W. Summit St., Lakewood, NY 14750.
"I am just very pleased they accepted. I'm looking forward to having another tool to use."
Lakewood-Busti Police chief
Currently, besides Lakewood, there are five K-9 units in Chautauqua County: two at the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office, one at the New York State Police office in Jamestown, one with the Dunkirk Police Department and one with the Jamestown Police Department.
The board also accepted the bid for two 2014 marked police patrol cars - 2014 Dodge Charger Pursuits at $25,496 each - and the bid for one 2014 marked sport utility vehicle to be funded by the K-9 grant - a 2014 Dodge Durango SUV for $27,539. The bids were submitted by Lake County Dodge of Jamestown.
In other news, the village, acting as the Board of Fire Commissioners, authorized the Lakewood Fire Department to move forward with plans to establish a memorial park near their fire station located at the corner of Chautauqua Avenue and J.W. Packard Boulevard. Jack Knowlton, president of the Lakewood Volunteer Fire Company, said the memorial park will honor all past deceased members of the Lakewood Fire Department. The project has been in the works for the last five to six years as the fire department saved money for the endeavor.