Editor's note: This story first appeared in Community News.
The Red Bank Police Department is reinstating its K9 program with the recent acquisition of Harry, the department's first K9 unit since RBPD phased out its program three years ago.
The multipurpose K9 officer's duties include narcotics tracking and criminal apprehension, said Police Capt. John Wright.
"He's being utilized daily and is doing some good work," Wright said of Harry.
The program was phased out when the department's previous K9, a Labrador Retriever, became too old and sick to work.
Former Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol first brought up bringing back the city's K9 program last March, when he invited two handlers from the Chattanooga Police Department to speak to city commissioners at one of their work sessions about how the department could benefit from adding a K9 officer, answer questions concerning costs and training associated with the program.
While Red Bank lacked its own K9 officer, the department would borrow dogs from other local agencies when necessary. Christol told commissioners the department requested the use of K9 officers from the Chattanooga Police Department and Hamilton County Sheriff's Office 41 times in 2016.
The city decided to apply for a grant through the Aegis Law Enforcement Foundation, which sought and distributed funds that were awarded to the department by the Schillhahn-Huskey Foundation.
A $25,000 grant was awarded for the purchase of two dogs, though RBPD ended up accepting only $10,000 for one dog. Wright said this was because of a lack of manpower, as well as the desire to give the department more time to evaluate the situation and determine whether another dog is necessary.
The grant covered the cost of the dog; three weeks of training in Elkhart, Ind., for the dog and his handler, K9 Officer Kyle Dennis; and kennels for Dennis' car and home.
Harry joined the department in October, and since then has had the opportunity to serve the sheriff's office and Chattanooga and Soddy-Daisy police departments in addition to RBPD.
Dennis, who described himself as an animal-lover, said he enjoys making traffic stops and doing criminal interdiction, the identification and interception of unwanted criminal activities.
"This is a really useful tool for that," he said of Harry, in regards to why he wanted to train to be a handler.