Police Chief Jeff Bert said in an interview Aug. 10 the city received a grant from K9s4Cops that provides a dog to the department. As such, as of Aug. 10, the department had received a 2-year-old male Belgian Malinois named Kobe, who was in a bonding period with the designated officer before the two head to training and the K-9 unit officially launches in Tomball.
Bert said the police department had a successful K-9 unit a few years ago, prior to Bert becoming chief in 2020.
"When I came to Tomball two years ago, I saw a huge opportunity in terms of the kinds of calls our officers are going on and, candidly, the kinds of calls that don't have a resolution that I want," Bert said in an interview. "Sometimes, it takes too long to set up a perimeter on a fleeing suspect, so we lose a suspect by the time an outside entity comes with a K-9 or two."
Bert said City Council budgeted for purchasing a K-9, a retrofitted vehicle and training an officer to re-establish a K-9 unit in the ongoing 2021-22 fiscal year. According to the city's budget, $20,000 was allocated for a K-9 unit and $70,000 for a retrofitted vehicle.
Bert said the K-9 unit will aid the department with apprehending suspects and detecting narcotics.
"In about six weeks we will ... unleash a K-9 unit in the streets of Tomball with a well-trained officer and a well-trained dog to seek out narcotics detention on traffic stops, in certain building scenarios and then also use the dog for suspect apprehension when necessary," he said. "Since I've been here about two years, [narcotics arrests have] gone up about 200% from what they used to be, so our officers are really focused on drug intervention. ... I think this is going to be a great addition."
Bert said the officer who will be handling Kobe will be able to respond to a situation in less than 15 minutes. This will allow the department to police more smartly and quickly, he said, as previously, the department would need to secure a perimeter for about two hours, waiting for a neighboring entity to arrive with a K-9.
In addition to time savings in responding to a situation, Bert said a dog is able to detect narcotics more quickly and concretely than an officer and is able to help resolve a situation without any weapons being used.
"A dog doesn't have bias. .. A dog just has a nose that says, 'There's narcotics,'" he said. "It is solidifying already good police work and making it great. When you have a dog finding narcotics, ... it's very difficult to challenge that in court effectively."