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Police dog off duty until broken-down police car can be replaced

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. -- The Alexandria Police Department has taken its drug-detecting K9 off duty until officers are able to replace the car the dog normally rides in.

Alexandria Police Chief Matt Ellis says the 2006 Ford Crown Victoria normally driven by Officer Matt Blakely and his K9 partner “Riggs” is out of commission.

“The Computer went out on it, and we also found that the frame is starting to crack,” Ellis said.  “So the vehicle is unsafe.”

Riggs, a 2-year old Dutch Shepherd, is a dual purpose police dog used for narcotics detection and suspect apprehension.  Ellis and Blakely say it would be unsafe for Riggs to ride around in a police car that is not property equipped as a K9 unit.  The in-car kennel equipment not only serves to protect Riggs on patrol, but also protects the public against the dog getting out when he’s not supposed to.

Ellis says he has no choice but to take Riggs off duty until the broken-down vehicle can be replaced and equipped for a police dog.  As Indiana communities are in the grip of a drug epidemic, the timing is not good for the department to be without Riggs’ special abilities.

“We’ve never seen levels of heroin like we have right now,” Ellis said.

Ellis says he went to the Alexandria Board of Public Works and Safety with an emergency request for funding to replace the car.

“My request was funding for a used vehicle and lights and then we could adapt one of our existing kennels to fit into that car so we could get the dog back on the road,” Ellis said.

But Alexandria is currently facing a $200,000 deficit and the board tabled his request for two weeks to give city officials time to explore financial options.

Chief Ellis says he believes city officials will do everything possible to replace the police car.  But in the meantime, Riggs must stay off duty.

As city officials explore financial options, Ellis says he’s prepared to accept donations from the public in the form of money or a replacement vehicle.  He hopes to acquire something similar to a 2012 Dodge Charger.

“As long as it is a police capable vehicle, yeah, we’d be happy to entertain that,” Ellis said.

Any individual or business interested offering help can contact the Alexandria Police Department at (765) 724-3222.