Hey, dog(s)

July 21, 2011

The Havre de Grace Police Department's K-9 units should be a source of pride and consternation for those who live in the community.

Havre de Grace can be proud its police have not just one, but two K-9 units. The community can also be proud that its K-9 service, started in 1963, is Harford County's oldest.

That's the good news. In what is, perhaps, the not so good news, those K-9 units aren't solely in the service of the Havre de Grace community. Instead, they can be as much in the service of the greater law enforcement community than in the service of just the Havre de Grace community.

In Bryna Zumer's profile of the unit published last Friday in The Record, she outlined that Havre de Grace residents and/or taxpayers shouldn't be surprised to see one of the units, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, roaring down the highway to another community.

"Abuse of power and authority, no," Jeff Gilpin, a spokesman for the Havre de Grace Police, wrote in an email response to questions asked during research for the story. "Acting within the scope of our responsibility to work cooperatively and assist other agencies in the reduction of crime and illegal narcotics, yes."

And therein is the conundrum: How many resources should Havre de Grace Police dedicate to a program that sometimes directly benefits those beyond the city? We agree wholeheartedly with Gilpin; there is a responsibility for law enforcement agencies to cooperate, especially for small agencies such as the Havre de Grace Police Department which often needs outside support from others, including the Harford County Sheriff's Office and the Maryland State Police.

That doesn't make it any less jarring for Havre de Grace people to see a police car from its community racing south on I-95 far from the city.

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