DALTON -- The Dalton Police Department is working to establish its first K-9 program this spring with financial help from the Stanton Foundation.

The department recently secured a $26,000 grant from the nonprofit, which is named after CBS broadcast executive Frank Nicholas Stanton, to fund the new unit.

"It will be another tool for us to use," said Dalton Police Chief Jeffrey Coe. "Whether it's a missing perpetrator or a missing person, a dog's sense of smell is an invaluable tracking tool."

The dog is expected to arrive in town this April and complete training by fall.

The foundation's involvement in such grants stems from the low-profile nonprofit's interest in canine welfare issues. Adams also received a K-9 grant from the Stanton Foundation last month.

New police dogs are bred in Europe and trained in Pennsylvania, according to Massachusetts Municipal Association.

To purchase and train a police dog costs between $6,500 and $10,000, Coe said.

The MMA website, which includes a section on Stanton Foundation K-9 grants, said the rest of the funds should go toward conversion of a police cruiser for K-9 use, construction of an outdoor kennel, a K-9 bulletproof vest and dog food. Between $3,000 and $5,000 per year is the annual cost of sustaining the program, Coe said.

Dalton plans to rely on the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office for assistance in the training and acquisition of the animal.

It is from the sheriff's office, and specifically Capt. Dwayne Foisy, who has experience in training police dogs, that the animal will learn its specialty skill: Narcotics detection. Coe said given the area's opiate issues such a specialty made the most sense.

The dog, which Coe said will probably be a German shepherd, also requires a designated handler.

"They say that's very important for the animal-human connection," Coe said.

Two officers within the department applied for the role. Officer Matthew Mozzi, who was recently made full-time, got the nod.

"He's a young guy with a lot of energy," Coe said. "It just made sense to make Matt the full-time dog officer."

To reach Phil Demers:
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