The Las Vegas Police Department is giving up its two canine officers.
Officer Kiran, who has been with the Las Vegas police department for eight years, is being retired. She will be allowed to stay in the care of the officer who has been serving as her handler.
Officer Chicco, who is 4 years old, is being transferred to another law enforcement agency in the state. Chicco was purchased with funding donated by Eagles Lodge.
The City Council is scheduled to take formal action on approving the retirement and transfer at its meeting this Wednesday.
Chief Christian Montaño told the City Council during its work session last week that it has become difficult to find training instructors within the state for the department to maintain the required certifications. He also said the program is costing his department $40,000 to $70,000 a year to maintain and at this point isn’t cost effective.
“What we’re sinking into the program and what we’re getting out of it, it’s not worth it,” he told the Council.
Montaño stressed that the department isn’t terminating the program permanently. He said the department recognizes its importance and would like to bring it back in the future once it can figure out a solution to the training requirements. But for now, Montaño said, it’s almost impossible to get the requisite training.
Because of the lack of training, the department hasn’t been able maintain necessary certifications for the canine units. The lack of certification means the department hasn’t been able to use the canines on the streets because the liability would be too high if something were to go wrong, Montaño said.
He said he asked the officers who take care of the canines, and they agreed that the department should spend the money where it will do the most good.
Montaño told the Council that it’s difficult to quantify the benefits of the canine program, such things as being able to take them into schools.
Kiran is nearing the end of her serviceable life, and it’s common practice throughout the country to leave a canine officer in the care of its handler once it is retired, the chief said.
Councilwoman Tonita Gurule-Giron voiced support for allowing Kiran to remain in her handler’s care.
“I think that’s the humane thing to do, the right thing to do,” she said.
A lawsuit was filed against the city of Las Vegas and several officers in 2008 after Kiran allegedly bit a man during a search of a home. The lawsuit was dismissed a year later for lack of prosecution.