NORWAY — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Thursday evening to allow the Norway Police Department to move forward with a police dog program.

Officer John Lewis in October proposed a program in which the town would buy a dog that would be able to assist police in tracking people and sniffing out evidence, including drugs.

The dog — a purebred black Labrador — wouldn’t be trained for biting, Lewis told selectmen in October. It would live with Lewis.

Selectman Russell Newcomb said Thursday’s that when Lewis first proposed the program, he received a lot of good feedback from people.

“I thought your proposal was informative and detailed,” Newcomb said. “I think it’d be good for the town.”

Chairman Warren Sessions Jr. asked Lewis if the Police Department had received any donations toward the K-9 program.

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Lewis said that he was waiting to hear back from the town on whether the program would proceed before accepting donations.

Town Manager Dennis Lajoie said he also has heard a lot of positive feedback about the program and has received an anonymous donation of $1,000 to go toward it.

He added that the town has been holding onto the check “for a couple of weeks now” until the selectmen made a decision on whether to proceed with the program.

Police Chief Rob Federico said that he and Lewis determined that the department would require between $8,000 and $10,000 to kick start the program, with about $1,000 needed to buy the dog.

The largest portion of the money would go toward “modifying the vehicle so it’s safe for the dog to be in,” Lewis said.

“The leading cause of death for law enforcement K-9s is death while they’re in the cruiser, whether it’s due to heat or exposure to the cold,” he said.

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Federico said that he believed much of the startup cost could be covered by donations and drug forfeiture money and that eventually, the program would become self-sufficient.

“John has been doing research and trying to find the best, most official way to start this program,” Federico said, adding that through his research, he learned that it would benefit the town to buy “a more mature dog.”

“If you buy a puppy and six months down the road, it doesn’t work out, you’ve not only lost the time, but you’ve lost the cost of the puppy,” Federico said. “The trainers John spoke with recommended choosing a dog with a little bit of maturity.”

He added that many people had approached him about donating money toward the program if it were approved by selectmen.

Lewis estimated that the dog would be ready to buy and take home as early as January and would likely be ready to work by fall or winter of 2018.

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From left, Police Chief Rob Federico, Selectmen Bruce Cook and Thomas Curtis, Town Manager Dennis Lajoie and police officer John Lewis on Thursday discuss a proposal to bring a police dog program to the Norway Police Department. The board voted 5-0 to approve the program. (Matthew Daigle/Sun Journal)


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