Sheriff not allowed to use drug dog, county fears expenses
ONIDA (AP) — Elected officials in one South Dakota county are at odds after the local sheriff was told he couldn't use a drug-sniffing dog because the resulting arrests would prove too costly.
The Argus Leader reported the highly-trained dog named Reggie has created a stir in Sully County in central South Dakota.
Sheriff Bill Stahl wants to welcome the black Labrador retriever to his two-deputy team, but county commissioners voted in February to block him. More recently, commissioners denied requests to amend the county's insurance policy to cover the canine.
Commissioner Bill Floyd said a drug-sniffing dog would likely apprehend more people passing through the county as opposed to local drug dealers and prosecution would be expensive.
"We might put away a Chicago drug dealer once in a while, but that just helps Chicago at our expense," Floyd said.
Stahl said one methamphetamine arrest he made along with three other drug felonies cost the county $8,500 last month in housing fees at Hughes County Jail in Pierre.
With South Dakota seeing a surge in felony drug arrests, Stahl said the vote sends the wrong message and that commissioners have taken away the deterrence effect the dog would've had on those who travel along Highway 83.
Sioux Falls resident Luke Senst said he doesn't understand the commission's decision.
"The resolution they have doesn't make sense to me. To me, it says 'we have a drug problem, but we don't want to pay to deal with it,'" Senst said.
Reggie and his owner, Deputy Jordan Anderson, recently finished 280 hours of training in Pierre.
There are 27 narcotics-sniffing dogs in South Dakota, according to Attorney General Marty Jackley's office.