The Coon Rapids Crime Prevention Association has launched a fundraising campaign to provide a second police dog for the Coon Rapids Police Department.
And it is seeking the financial support of the citizens of Coon Rapids to make it happen.
The cost to purchase a dog, train it and pay for other related expenses, like equipment and modifications at the handler’s home where the dog will live, is estimated at $20,000.
The crime prevention association has pledged up to $9,000 of its own funds toward the project.
The association will also act as the fiduciary agent in the fund-raising effort, meaning that all donations will be tax deductible because the association is a 501c3 charitable organization and receipts will be provided.
Currently, the police department has one dog and handler – Buddy and Officer Mark McDonough.
Indeed, the campaign has been given the tag line, “Buddy needs a crime-fighting partner.”
McDonough and Buddy respond to calls and are involved in investigations, not only in Coon Rapids, but in other parts of Anoka County as are canine units from all other law enforcement agencies in the county.
The Coon Rapids Police Department has had as many as three dogs in the past, including two a few years ago, and was one of the first departments in the state to establish a canine unit back in the 1960s.
According to Police Chief Brad Wise, the canine unit is an important part of the police department’s work.
“Canine units enhance public safety,” Wise said.
Police dogs are trained in criminal apprehension, officer protection, building and article searches and narcotics detection, as well as participating in annual certification tests and public demonstrations, he said.
Canine units also allow the department to share resources with other law enforcement agencies in the county so they have access to police canines 24/7, Wise said.
“This is not a city government project,” he said.
“The crime prevention association is a private organization that is not part of the city, but provides resources for the police department.”
The fund-raising campaign will focus on seeking donations from Coon Rapids community organizations and contributions from residents and businesses in the community.
As a private citizen, not in his role as police chief, Wise plans to make presentations to local community groups, for example Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, asking them to contribute to the fundraising effort.
He has already spoken to the Coon Rapids Lions Club and plans to meet with the other organizations in the new year, Wise said.
Wise has also been speaking about the project to people that he meets during the course of the day, he said.
Solicitation of funds from residents and businesses will take place through the city’s utility billing process.
A donation card with information on the project will be sent out by the crime prevention association in the city utility bills that customers receive in February, March and April.
The city is split into three districts for mailings of quarterly utility bills.
The association also has a form available on the Coon Rapids Police Department website for tax deductible donations to be mailed in.
According to Wise, the Crystal Police Department recently had a successful community fundraising effort to bring on board a new police dog and Blaine tapped community financial support to purchase and train a second police dog for its police department.
Donations can be sent to the Coon Rapids Crime Prevention Association at 11155 Robinson Dr. NW, Coon Rapids, MN 55433-3761.
The community will also be asked to help name the new police dog.
According to Wise, the department will collect ideas from the community for a naming event and celebration to honor the newest members of the police department.
The success of the fundraising campaign will determine when the new police dog is purchased by the city and trained, Wise said.
“It takes time to purchase and train a police dog,” he said. “We shall have to see what happens.”
Nor will an officer be selected to be the new police dog handler until the money has been raised, Wise said.
“But I expect there will be a lot of interest,” he said.
McDonough has been a canine handler with the department since 1984.
“Mark is a highly respected canine officer in the state and country,” Wise said.
McDonough’s current canine, Buddy, a male German Shepherd, has been with the department since November 2010.
McDonough and his canine partners over the years have earned numerous commendations and honors from the United States Police Canine Association.
The nonprofit Coon Rapids Crime Prevention Association was founded in 1990 by some members of the Coon Rapids Rotary Club to provide direct support and resources to the police department for equipment purchases, rewards for informant tips that lead to arrests and conviction and special programs like the annual Coon Rapids Police Citizens Academy.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]