BEVERLY — The Beverly Lions Club wants to provide police with reinforcements — the four-legged kind.
The club is trying to raise $15,000 to start a K-9 unit for the Beverly Police Department. The money would be used to buy one dog and to pay for its training and other expenses.
Lions Club President Scott Clark said the club got the idea from the Salem Lions Club, which helped raise money to purchase three dogs and start a K-9 unit for the Salem Police Department.
“We saw how great the community response was in Salem, and I said, ‘Why not Beverly?” Clark said.
Beverly police Capt. Christopher Negrotti told city councilors this week that the department would “substantially benefit” from a K-9 unit.
Negrotti said the department has fewer officers than in the past to cover a city of 40,000 people and 15 square miles.
Trained dogs would help officers find missing people, search buildings, catch criminals, locate evidence and respond to disturbances, he said.
When the need for a search dog arises now, Beverly police must call state police, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department or another law enforcement agency with a K-9 unit. Negrotti said those agencies are very cooperative, but the response is still delayed, which can hurt the chances of finding a missing child or elderly person.
“This is where a Beverly K-9 unit would satisfy the city’s need for immediacy and consistency,” Negrotti said.
Ray said each dog would live with the officer who is its handler.
In Salem, several groups joined forces to raise more than $44,000 to establish a K-9 unit. The city bought three German shepherds in October.
The dogs and their handlers are taking part in a 14-week training course at the Boston Police K9 Academy and should be ready for work in January, Salem Capt. Brian Gilligan said.