Painesville K9 Unit Disbanded

After extensive research and conversation, the City of Painesville has decided to disband the Painesville K9 Unit. The decision was not made lightly, but in the face of the City’s continually growing budget deficit and the passage of Ohio SB57, the City could no longer sustain the auxiliary unit.


The K9 Unit consisted of one team, Officer Matt Collins and K9 Cip. Effective immediately, Officer Collins will be moved to regular patrol services, while Cip will be retired from the department and live at home with Collins. Painesville will now rely on the newly formed Lake County Sheriff’s K9 Unit (not yet in service), Fairport Harbor K9 Unit, as well as other area K9 teams, and will transfer all remaining equipment and resources among the area units that will serve the City.


Ohio SB57


Ohio Senate Bill 57, also known as the ‘hemp’ bill, was signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine on July 30, 2019 making it legal to cultivate a strain of cannabis known as ‘hemp.’ Ohio SB57 removes hemp and hemp products from the definition of marijuana in Ohio law and prohibits it from being listed as a controlled substance.


Due to this legalization of hemp and medical marijuana in Ohio, K9’s who had previously been trained to detect drugs, including marijuana, are unable to detect the difference between legal and illegal strains. In the past, officers could use K9 signals to justify a warrantless vehicle search, and whatever was found in the vehicle – marijuana, illegal drugs, etc. – could be used as evidence in court. With the legalization of hemp and medical marijuana, this practice is changing and many prosecutors, including Lake County, will not accept evidence found by a marijuana trained K9, like Cip.


Cost of Operation


The decision to disband the Painesville K9 Unit was also impacted by financial limitations exasperated by the need to replace and equip a new K9 cruiser. Estimated costs to move forward with the cruiser and equipment in 2020 were $68,000. With SB57, the city would also have to purchase and train a new K9, estimated at an additional $11,000.


The decision to cut the unit comes after other cuts were made to the police department operating budget including reduced traffic detail, reduced staffing levels on midnight shift and other overtime spending.


City Manager Monica Irelan Dupee came to the decision to disband the K9 Unit after sitting down with Police Chief Dan Waterman and Administrative Lt Toby Burgett. “We would never cut anything that would directly affective the safety of our citizens,” said Dupee. “We started looking at savings in our auxiliary units as a way to make up for the unprecedented overtime hours the department has been recording. The decision was not made lightly. We did not want to affect our Detective bureau or SWAT team, who play vital roles in safety services. The K9 Unit has been outstanding and is very well respected in the community. However, we had to make a decision that was financially responsible and best for the city overall.”


Thank You


The City of Painesville would like to recognize Officer Collins, who has spent the last 16 years serving as a K9 handler in the area. His Painesville K9 partners have included Laika, Cash and Cip. In addition to his standard K9 duties, Collins has performed K9 demonstrations throughout the community and is very well respected amongst K9 agencies. Collins will continue to help develop young officers and be a valuable officer in the Painesville Police Department.   


The Painesville Police Department would also like to recognize the many supporters of our K9 Unit over the years, especially student volunteer Erin Baur who raised over $8,000 of the $11,000 needed to purchase Cip in 2014-2015 and was instrumental in continuing the Painesville K9 Unit. Her dedication is not only admirable but instrumental in keeping the Painesville K9 Unit going these past five years.