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BREAKING: GPD K-9 handlers moving to patrol while the department evaluates how the dogs will be deployed

File photo of the 2018 GPD K-9 unit

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – As of midnight on January 9, Gainesville Police Department’s (GPD) K-9 handlers will be reassigned to patrol shifts; it is unclear whether the dogs will be available for deployment.

Following the resignation of Charles Owens as supervisor of the K-9 unit, GPD no longer has a K-9 supervisor who is certified as a trainer, and the K-9 handlers will be leaving their dogs at home and working regular patrol shifts. GPD has two other sworn officers who are at least partially qualified to be K-9 supervisors, but they have not agreed to take the position.

The change has also been explained as a partial solution to GPD’s staffing shortages; the department currently has 44 sworn officer vacancies.

A GPD K-9 unit just tracked a drive-by shooter this week, resulting in the arrest of the shooter.

The K-9 unit has been under scrutiny since Terrell Bradley lost an eye during a K-9 apprehension last July. Former K-9 handler Edward Ratliff also filed a lawsuit against the City of Gainesville in December 2021 that alleged racism and discrimination in the unit. The lawsuit was moved to federal court in August 2022, and a mediation report is due January 30.

The Gainesville City Commission held a Special Meeting on November 16 to discuss the use of K-9 teams at GPD. After a meeting that lasted nearly five hours, the commission postponed a decision and requested additional information from staff and a cultural audit of the K-9 unit “to see where the issues are and bring back recommendations.”

The handlers will report to new Patrol Support Lieutenant, Mike West. Lieutenant West has 23 years of experience with the Gainesville Police Department and currently serves as the Special Weapons and Tactics Commander. Lieutenant West and Patrol Support Commander Captain Anthony Ferrara are in the process of identifying a K-9 Unit Sergeant to replace Owens.

Chief Lonnie Scott sent Alachua Chronicle a written statement that said he and the command staff are reviewing current GPD policy and procedures and evaluating how the K-9s will be deployed until new leadership has been identified and trained.

Scott wrote, “The Gainesville Police Department’s K-9 Unit will remain a vital component of the overall deployment to serve the City of Gainesville. Each handler will continue their roles and responsibilities in uniformed patrol with adjustments in the manner in which the K-9s are utilized until the new supervisor is named. The Department will follow both CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) and federal guidelines in maintaining the certifications of each team.”

  • Welcome to the jungle. Thank your spineless city commissioners for this hot mess.

  • Another nail in the coffin of effective law enforcement within the county. The woke bunch is doing nothing but declaring war on the civilized population.

    • And being supported in that endeavor by the Chief of police and the UF faction of the City Commission.

    • Yep these woke idiots running Gangsville just made it even easier for criminal low life’s! The ignorants on city comm have been wrong on no less than every single issue they’ve touched. East side still projects and poor, mostly black; and, Westside white with better houses and college kids in between. Flee to the projects when on the run. Crime rules in Gangsville! No dogs either!!!

  • Criminals 1 – Law Abiding Citizens 0!

    Criminal, “Your dog bit me just because I was hiding behind a bush after committing a crime!”

    Police Chief and GNV Commissioners, “Oops, so sorry, we’ll make that safer for you, we’ll just find a way to decertify our K9 Unit and put them in the path of danger just like the rest of our poorly manned force protecting honest, law abiding citizens who pay our salary!”

  • These idiots and the idiots who voted them in to office needs to look at all of the democratic run city’s that has tried to hold back law enforcement the crime rate has double thank god for our stand your ground law 🔫🔫

  • Gee, a career criminal who refused to surrender to the police gets hurt and G’ville politicians wring their hands and cry; no more K-9s. At least today’s meeting was 4-3 for common sense for a nice change. So GPD has gone from short 40 officers to 44 in the last few months. This is on top of the 50 the CC defunded when that was the thing, so we are short almost 100 sworn officers. Think about that.

    • One hopes that some of these “poor criminals” the City Commission is so concerned about, visit them soon then we’ll see how they feel about things.

  • Be prepared to protect yourselves, this is another step in their grand plan. Sad, when a police force isn’t permitted to use “all” resources available to not only protect you and your families but themselves as well.

    Someone wise once said, “dead men tell no tales.” Take that for what it’s worth.

  • “See where the issues are…”?? Yeah, the issues are that law enforcement is quitting for lack of community support. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the canine forces or their handlers, the suspects in question refuse to comply with officers’ lawful
    commands, and because they do they get bitten by the dog which is supposed to happen, end of story!

    Our city government, once again choosing wokeness over public safety!

  • If the same dog bite scenario happened just one county south of us, just one, in Marion, this would be a non issue. The wokesters would have been told to go pound sand. Alachua/Gnv continues it’s downward spiral into SanFan, berkeley east, California, our sister community. The blue dot in a sea of red. Good grief it’s time to get out..

  • These GPD canine officers chose their path with specialized training and certification. Now that it’s being taken away from them I bet they’re looking to join a different police dept. Wicked smart on the part of GPD & a woke commission.

  • Am I the only one who read the article and picked up on what might just blow the top off everything? One of their own K9 officers filed a lawsuit for racism within the unit. The guy who lost an eye was black. Anyone else putting 2 and 2 together? Can’t wait to see what that lawsuit says. Supervisor quit, nobody else wants to step in and take position, and chief deactivates entire unit. Grab your popcorn because there’s more to come.

    • You might want to check your facts first and see why that officer was kicked out of the unit twice and quit GPD instead of getting fired. Popcorn indeed…

  • The comments in here. Everyone’s a dumbass.

    “GPD no longer has a K-9 supervisor who is certified as a trainer”

    That’s how it works in any job. You aren’t certified or don’t have anyone certified, you can’t do it. Unless you want to do it illegally…..which wouldn’t surprise me from the group of morons in here.

    • TuMama…It’s obvious what you aren’t certified for, thanks for the continued evidence in support of that.

      The dogs are already certified, if the city were interested in maintaining a K-9 unit they could contract it out the way they do everything else they’re incapable of performing/providing for themselves.

    • How effective! Shotgun statements like “Everyone’s a dumb ass”! Meant to distract from the real problem in this case: Corrupt local elected officials participating in actions contrary to doing their job: Protecting law abiding citizens as well as highly trained policemen/policewomen, and the K9 doing the people’s work!

      Your comment is so obviously pro criminal!

  • The upper command (Chief) is once again bowing to pressure from city hall. Without a dog on duty, GPD will once again have to ask other agencies (ASO) for a dog when the need arises.
    I know, I’ve seen it first hand for 28 years. Wonder why the current K9 Sergeant resigned, no one else wants the position?
    These are your tax dollars people, speak up!

  • I would love a survey from our community to see who really wants the K-9 unit to be dismantled. Law abiding citizens or criminals that chose not to comply?

    • Christine, I believe more of the latter and those who condone their behaviors than the former. That’s just my guess.

  • Way to go GPD! Give those criminals a break, knowing that there will be no police dogs to hunt them down, or protect police will be a cause for celebration.

    And how does taking the dogs away from the handers add to patrol? K-9 Units patrol already and taking the dogs adds nothing to the numbers of police. What a really, silly statement that taking the dog away adds to the patrol numbers, no wonder GPD is a mess if their chief is this IQ challenged.

    • They don’t patrol, anyway, at least not in regular (non-project) neighborhoods. They sit and wait to get a call that a crime has been committed. If they would actively patrol, especially at night, that would make a big difference. But they don’t.

    • We need those K9’s because these felons who are not complying with officers orders are carrying stolen guns and weapons…it’s a very dangerous job being a cop…expect more cops getting shot or more criminals getting shot if they don’t follow orders…it’s quite a decision to make.. we need the K9
      To disarm armed criminals…the k9’s put their lives on the line. God bless the K9’s and the officers.
      Comply with officers orders!…if a cop tells you to be still and not move your hands, do it.

  • Just like the mass exedous of Teachers to neighboring Law-abiding, God Fearing counties,sadly our best of the best will not tolerate reckless and dangerous agendas. Who’s in charge,whats on 2nd and where the hell is 3Rd?

  • Can someone explain why GPD can’t continue to train with ASO, APD, FHP or UPD to stay in compliance? If the issue is truly a lack of a training coordinator, GPD and Chief Scott could easily partner with any other accredited Agency to continue the years of work and money that has been put into this team.

    This resignation of the training coordinator is an opportunity for Chief Scott to walk away from the program; prove me wrong.

    • He doesn’t like his friends getting dog bit when they run from law enforcement they sometimes loose body parts 😂😂😂

    • Calm down, there have been several K9 sergeants over the years to step away for one reason or another. They will find another sergeant to run it. Think of this a the “changing of the guards”.

  • GPD currently has 44 sworn officer vacancies. For context, according to GPD website, they have a total of 119 employees. Imagine working a job with that level of understaffing.

    I guess when pro-criminal politicians can’t defund the police like they want, they just drive them out with their policies.

  • They just need to train the dogs to go after other body parts instead of eye-balls. Remember the movie Sandlot? This would serve a double purpose for reducing crime now and in the future. Kill 2 stones & 1 bird, LOL!

  • They need to stop inviting vagrants here and giving them benefits at Grace Marketplace…close that crime cesspool down….expand the jail, raise the bail, don’t be dropping cases and letting these criminals off.
    Know if you break the law here, you’re
    Getting locked up…keep it up, stay in prison forever. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. Zero tolerance will work and send the vagrants back to where they came from.

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