Wages opposes drug dog, doesn’t want RF known as ‘area who stops everyone’

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2014

A request for two drug dogs by the River Falls police chief was met with opposition from one council members at Thursday night’s meeting.

Chief Greg Jackson asked the council for permission spend drug fund monies to purchase two narcotic dogs.

“I can’t spend that money on anything except for equipment,” he said. “If you approve it, the sheriff will donate a cage for Kyle’s Crown Vic and I already have a partition in my Tahoe.”

Jackson estimated that a cage would cost around $5,000, so the sheriff’s donation would be a significant savings to the town.

Jackson said he had spoken with District Attorney Walt Merrell who said it was legal for him to pay the vet bills and food for the dogs from the drug fund.

“We are pushing $20,000 in the fund,” Jackson said.

Councilwoman Mattie Freeney asked if the dogs would be trained.

Jackson said he wouldn’t purchase a dog that wasn’t trained.

The price would vary depending on how old the dogs are and where they are purchased.

“I think it would be an asset with as much as we deal with drug-wise,” Jackson said. “I don’t want a bite dog, just a single-purpose dog. May take a month or two to find some, but we have plenty of money.”

Councilmember Gary Wages objected to the purchase.

“I don’t think the Town of River Falls needs to get into the drug dog business,” Wages said.

Jackson said currently if a vehicle is stopped for speeding, it could have 50 pounds of dope, but if the driver doesn’t consent, he can’t search.

“We are on two major corridors,” he said. “We make the most drug arrests. If we have a dog and he smells it that gives up probable cause (to search). It’s our job to enforce the law.”

Jackson asked Wages why he was against the dog.

“I don’t want River Falls to be known as the area who stops everyone,” Wages said.

Jackson said in October, the department wrote only 27 tickets, but acknowledged that traffic volume picks up during spring break and holiday periods.

Wages said that spring breakers’ clothing has been strewn all over the road.

Jackson said that accusation was false.

“That is not true,” he said. “When we are searching people’s vehicles, we are not throwing people’s stuff around. If we mess something up, we have paid for it.”

Jackson said that during spring break, residents complain about motorists going 70 mph in a 45 mph speed zone.

Councilman Richard Bowden asked Jackson how drug traffic in River Falls compares to drug traffic in Florala.

“We are even with Florala on drugs,” Jackson said. “And Opp isn’t getting as much since they got the bypass.”

Bowden said he was in support at this point, but asked for some time to mull over the information.

No action was taken on the request.