Greenfield Police Department’s K-9 program saved by public donations

  • Niko, a German shepherd who joined the Greenfield Police Department about a year ago, will continue to work with his handler, Officer Patrick Merrigan, thanks to donations from the community. Courtesy Photo/Greenfield Police Department

Staff Writer
Published: 7/6/2022 5:41:00 PM
Modified: 7/6/2022 5:38:22 PM

GREENFIELD — After City Council’s $425,000 cut to the Police Department budget threatened to end its K-9 program, the service is expected to continue for at least another year thanks to donations from the community.

“We have to raise $7,000 to keep the program,” acting Police Chief William Gordon said on Wednesday. “We’ve raised $6,000 so far. I anticipate being able to raise the additional $1,000 throughout the year.”

In May, after the council approved the budget cuts, the Police Department announced the K-9 program would disband before the start of the new fiscal year.

“There were comments from some councilors that questioned whether we should be paying the stipends,” Gordon said. “That got me to think that, for this year only, stop the K-9 stipend, which would have stopped the K-9 program. However, the support we’ve gotten from the community is overwhelming, and the donations started pouring in and were able to fund almost 90% of the program.”

As a result, Niko, a German shepherd who joined the force about a year ago, will continue to work with his handler, Officer Patrick Merrigan. Niko is 2½ years old.

“The K-9 is just as much of a member as anybody else,” Gordon said. “We utilize that dog in tracking to investigate crimes, as well as for search and rescue. That dog is also trained in narcotics … and that helps us to determine probable cause. He’s a force multiplier. He allows our officers to do things that would take an excess amount of time to investigate.”

The comfort dog program, however, has been disbanded, given former Greenfield Police Officer Laura Gordon’s recent move from the Greenfield Police Department to the Erving Police Department.

“We would love to reinstate the comfort dog program with a different handler, but we’re not prepared to do that at this time,” the acting chief said. “That was privately funded by (Laura).”

Anyone interested in donating to the K-9 program is asked to send checks made out to City of Greenfield to the Police Department at 321 High St. “K-9 Fund” should be written in the memo line.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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