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Ogdensburg police will establish a K-9 unit to battle city drug trade

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The Ogdensburg Police Department will start the new year by setting up its first K-9 unit to sniff out drug trade in the city.

The program was unveiled Thursday with the donation of a $12,000 federal forfeitures check from St. Lawrence County District Attorney Nicole M. Duve and Kodiak, the introduction of a nine-month-old black Labrador retriever dog owned by Patrolman Mark T. Kearns. Mr. Kearns and Kodiak will serve as the police department’s K-9 team.

The $12,000 will cover the estimated $8,500 expense of starting the program, which includes training for the dog and Mr. Kearns, equipment such as an aluminum cage to be fitted into a patrol car, yearly certification and funding for the program for two years at an estimated $1,000 to $1,500 annually.

“This will get us started,” said Police Chief Richard J. Polniak Jr., hoping that the annual costs will be a line item in his department’s budget by the time the $12,000 is spent. “This is a very effective tool.”

Ms. Duve agreed.

“It’s worth every penny,” she said. “I know from having worked closely with your department over the years what a tremendous need there is in the city for this kind of resource.”

Mr. Kearns, who breeds Labrador retrievers, has long wanted the police department to have its own K-9 unit to match those of state police and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department.

“I proposed it to the chief and we got the ball rolling,” he said.

Mr. Polniak said the sheriff’s department may have a used cage to donate to the city.

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