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Legion to host meatball fundraiser for Park Rapids PD K-9 unit

The Park Rapids American Legion Family is hosting a meatball dinner on Friday, July 14 to raise funds for a Park Rapids Police Department K-9 unit.

The Legion Family is serving Evie Hagen's famous meatballs, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, beverage, and dessert 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, July 14. Hugo's is donating the meat for the dinner. Cost for dinner is $9 with all proceeds going to the Park Rapids Police K-9 fund.

The public is welcome to stop by with any donations they would like to make to the fund.

A group of community leaders in May began raising funds to establish a K-9 unit for the Park Rapids Police Department. Police Chief Jeff Appel presented a proposal to the city council for a K-9 unit within the Park Rapids PD at an estimated cost of $70,000.

Chief Appel stated a K-9 unit immediately improves police efficiency and effectiveness in tracking for missing persons and tracking for fleeing suspects, searching for evidence in large areas, building searches and scouts of large areas for criminal apprehension, provides another less lethal option, narcotics detection, handler protection, crowd control, and crime prevention.

Appel went on to say a K-9 unit enhances public relations and promotes a sense of ownership within the public, a backing the police department depends on to be successful.

He said it also supports a higher level of officer safety, citing the criminal's fear of dogs reduces resistance during apprehension. Service dogs are used primarily for general patrol, criminal apprehension and searches for narcotics.

The commitment is to raise $70,000 through business contributions and a public capital campaign. Estimated cost of a new vehicle and equipment for a K-9 unit is $50,000; $4,000 for academy handler certification; $8,500 to purchase the dog; and $500 for narcotics training. Annual operating costs include estimated $300 to $500 for veterinary services, $600 for dog food and $100 each for additional certification and trials.

Efforts to detect narcotics would include motor vehicle sniffs, school sniffs, search warrant sniffs, assist the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, as well as parks and public parking areas.

A police K-9 unit is one of the number one tools available to law enforcement to enhance public relations and promote a sense of ownership from the public into the police department itself, according to Chief Appel.