Barking mad – Police dog setback as government announces fresh trial

A DECISION on a permanent police dog in the Oxley Command has been delayed with NSW police instead choosing to trial a dog unit – again.

The Force has announced a “further trial” of a dog unit will be undertaken early next year as it determines whether it is a permanent feasible option.

In September, a general duties dog and handler spent a month on rotating duties in Tamworth as part of a 30-day trial before a review by the NSW Dog Unit and Western Region.

Oxley Superintendent Clint Pheeney said he was still in the dark on the details of the latest announcement.

“I think it is going to go for three months,” he told The Leader.

“I don’t have any more informationother than it’s going to be in early in the new year.”

Superintendent Pheeney has been one of the biggest backers of the community campaign to secure the four-legged canine to bolster police ranks.

Following the last trial, he said despite the short period of time “the dog has proven its worth,” adding it had assisted with several searches and arrests of offenders.

He took community concerns and the cold hard numbers to the blue hierarchy to help secure the unit permanently, and confirmed the current wait for a dog for a police operation can be several hours, travelling from Sydney, Dubbo or the coast, which could prove the difference in solving a case.

The NSW police were criticised when the original trial was announced last August, with some community members arguing it wasn’t long enough to prove its worth, while many said a drug dog would prove more effective in the town.

But there is still no word on whether the new trial will include a drug dog.

“I don’t know whether it will be a dual purpose dog or a drug detection dog,” Superintendent Pheeney said.

“It’ll happen very early on in the new year but that timing is still to be determined.”

The NSW Dog Unit has refused requests from The Leader for interviews since the end of the last trial, citing the trial’s review and in a statement this month said “no further comment can be provided at this time” as the matter is now “still under trial.”

The fight to secure a police dog is firming as a key election issue with Tamworth Regional Council stating in November “it was time to apply somepressure.”

“The whole idea of having a trial was to see if it worked or not, and it clearly worked, so let’s ask where a dog is and when it’s coming,” Deputy mayor Russell Webb told the November Council meeting.

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