Controversy over Porter police K9 unit

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Updated: 8/16/2013 11:31 pm Published: 8/16/2013 11:06 pm

Controversy over a police K9 has taken a new turn in a Wagoner County town.

On July 3, FOX23 was at the Porter City Council meeting where public outcry kept the German shepherd named Q on the force. A heated debate helped get the K9 get his job back.

Friday Trustee Brent Fatkin told FOX23 News residents are telling him they don't want the K9 unit.

"We are spending money transporting that dog back and forth and that a car is sitting out here idling providing air conditioning and that is costing us money," said Fatkin.

He has voted twice to terminate the K9 unit.

Now FOX23 News has learned trustees are working to fire him again.

Officer Lee Phillips says he paid $20,000 of his own money to train his dog Q to help fight crime in Porter.

However, on Monday trustees scheduled a special meeting to discuss terminating the police department's K9 unit.

"It takes a valuable tool off the street to take drugs off the street," said Phillips.

On Friday, FOX23 News went to City Hall to speak to the mayor and any trustee.

Fatkin was there and was hesitant about going on camera for an interview on his opposition to the K9 unit but agreed to an interview and said constituents are afraid to speak up but are telling him they don't want the dog.

"There is no point in providing an expense for a dog when we have access to the sheriff's two dogs," said Fatkin.

Philips says he's spent the money on training Q.

"I don't understand, there is not a logical reason why they would try so hard to get rid of something when it doesn't cost them anything," said Phillips.

Last week, the Porter City Council imposed a 5-mile limit on how far officers can drive their patrol car from the station after their shift, which bans them from taking their patrol cars home.

FOX23 News reviewed the budget that shows Porter police officers spent $1,990 on fuel in July and a similar amount in June. The mayor estimates each officer spends about $330 a month on fuel. Chief Darryl Jay, Sgt. Shalyn Jay and K9 Officer Lee Phillips are the only full-time officers and live outside the city limits.

Since the cap Trustee Fatkin could not explain the financial burden the K9 unit puts on the town.

Mayor Richard Keck says Q plays an important role in Porter's public safety, especially fighting crimes connected to drugs.

"Anyone who does not think there are drugs in here needs to wake up and get in the real world," said Keck.

Fatkins said the dog does not make the town safer.

Trustee Ron Hart put the item to terminate the K9 on the special meeting agenda for Monday. He cited July's vote as a violation of city ordinance section 2-104, C-2.

FOX23 News went to City Hall to review the ordinance that states:

"A motion to reconsider any of the proceedings of the board shall not be entertained unless it is made by a member who previously voted in the majority."

In July, Mayor Keck put the item on the agenda to reinstate the K9. He voted against terminating the K9 unit in June.

Trustee Brent Fatkin put the item on the agenda to terminate the K9 unit in June. However, there is a question of legality in the votes since the original vote to create the K9 unit was approved in October 2012. Mayor Keck is the only trustee who voted and approved the K9 unit in October 2012.

June 6 vote to terminate K9 unit contract:
Yea: Vice Mayor Dennis Holmes and Trustees Brent Fatkin, Ron Hart.
Nay: Mayor Richard Keck
*Trustee Steve Rush was not present

July 3 vote to reinstate K9 contract:
Yea: Mayor Richard Keck, Trustees Ron Hart and Steve Rush
Nay: Vice Mayor Dennis Holmes and Trustee Brent Fatkin

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

ol grumpy - 8/20/2013 12:32 PM
0 Votes
Why would an officer spend more money than his annual salary to train a dog? Why does a town with a population of 573 even need 3 officers, let alone a drug sniffing dog? Most towns of that size get along just fine without any government and certainly no police force. This is what County Sheriff's Department is for - small communities within the county without resources for law enforcement. Much ado about nothing.

Unwashed Mass - 8/18/2013 10:28 PM
0 Votes
It's quite a stretch of the imagination to say that having a "drug dog" keeps a community safe. There's simply no impartial data to back that up.

gettingby - 8/18/2013 6:52 PM
1 Vote
Either Porter wants drugs on the street, or the dog patrolling on the street. There really isn't a middle ground on this one. They have the services of a trained drug dog and should use it to keep their kids clean. That they oppose it speaks volumes.

Unwashed Mass - 8/17/2013 11:39 PM
2 Votes
Drug dogs are valuable tools -- if you are a corrupt police department bringing in revenue from illegal seizures of cash (which smells like drugs to drug dogs). Who gets a cut from the "forfeiture" money, the owner?
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