By Max Fontaine | Police and wildlife reporter
Citing escalating costs and budget considerations — perhaps both — Bass Lake Authority Police has decided to drop its participation in the K-9 officer program.
In its place, the town’s police department will initiate a new reigonwide Fee-Line program, which involves employment of fully-trained big cats to help authorities with searches and suspect apprehension, but “mainly the apprehension part,” according to ex-chief Gwen “Tug” McNabb.
“K-9 program is great, the dogs are great,” McNabb said. “But it costs too much. That’s what the town council said to say.”
A town council member echoed those sentiments, under a request for unanimity.
Municipalities may choose from among lions, tigers, leopards or, for an additional cost, a cheetah.
Although the cost of housing a Fee-Line officer is higher than with K-9s, training expense is significantly lower.
“Those things pretty much are gonna do what they’re gonna do,” McNabb said.
Fee-Lines also have proven a good way to reduce jail overcrowding. A recent study showed that, so far, the program has a 100 percent kill rate.