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Claremont To Add K-9 To Its Force



Valley News Correspondent
Friday, December 15, 2017

Claremont — The city police department will have a K-9 unit on patrol with an officer in the spring thanks to the City Council’s approval of a $43,000 grant from the Stanton Foundation of Cambridge, Mass.

The grant will cover startup costs including the purchase of a dog and training with an officer, kennel facilities at the officer’s home and outfitting a cruiser for a K-9 unit.

Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase told the council on Wednesday night the grant also will pay for overtime the department incurs while the officer and dog attend the training.

“This is a great program and is something I have wanted to do for a while,” Chase said.

The department had a K-9 unit 14 years ago, and another one before that in the late 1980s, the chief said.

The dog will train with Capt. Stephen Lee at the Boston Police Department over a seven- to eight-week period beginning in April and should be ready for patrols in Claremont in late May.

Initially, the dog would be trained to assist Lee in his daily duties, Chase said.

“The dog is another tool for us and we use it for a specific purpose,” the chief said. “We can use the dog almost right away but in a limited way. It is a partner for the officer.”

As an example, Chase said the dog could assist in searching an open door during a burglary investigation.

Additional training, possibly in the fall, would be needed in order for the animal to be used to search for drugs.

“After patrol training, we would seek to have the dog trained in narcotics,” Chase said on Thursday.

The Boston Police Department will select the dog for Lee after working with the officer, Chase said.

Once on patrol, the dog will work the same hours as Lee, and when Lee is off duty, the dog would not be available unless it is called in. When Lee goes on vacation, the dog will be “kenneled.”

If the officer who has trained with the dog leaves the department, the dog usually goes with him.

That happened with the last K-9 unit in Claremont; with just a few years left of service, the city decided to sell the dog to the officer’s new department, Chase said.

If the officer leaves a department not long after starting work with the dog, it is possible to retrain the dog with another officer, Chase said.

He said that typically a dog will serve between seven and 10 years.

Chase said the grant also will cover the first three years of all the dog’s expenses, including $600 a year in food and veterinarian bills. Chase is still developing a budget for the cost to the city beyond that. Police have had offers from the business community and others to support the program, including one from Hannaford Supermarket for a bulletproof vest.

Also on Wednesday, the council unanimously approved a motion to name the pedestrian bridge across the Sugar River in the city’s mill district after former City Manager Guy Santagate.

Santagate retired at the end of last year after having served as the city’s chief administrator since August 2001. Several residents and councilors supported the motion by Councilor John Simonds, praising Santagate for bringing stability to the city manager’s position and leading the effort to restore the decaying mill district along Water Street, as well as getting the bridge, which links to the visitors’ center and a park on North Street, constructed.

“The naming of the bridge for Mr. Santagate is in recognition of his leadership and achievements as city manager of Claremont in the successful completion of the pedestrian bridge as the first step and pivotal accomplishment of what would become the wider Monadnock Mills Revitalization Project,” Simonds said in his letter in support for the bridge being named for Santagate.

Other residents had similar praise for Santagate, saying that without him, the brick buildings that were part of the Monadnock Mills complex would have been lost to a wrecking ball, leaving the city with an empty, contaminated site.

“It is a fitting way to extend our gratitude for making Claremont a better place for all of us,” resident David Messier said.

Resident and businessman Mike Satzow listed many of Santagate’s accomplishments in addition to the mill district renovation, including broadening the tax base, overseeing the Brown Block restoration on Opera House Square and getting Canam Steel to stay in the city and expand.

“This would be a just tribute to someone who did so much for the city,” Satzow said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.