Police agency to drop K-9, add cat

Leopard Bernstein, a Fee-Line for the Michianapolis Police Department.
Leopard Bernstein, a Fee-Line for the Michianapolis Police Department, during off-duty hours. (Panthera Pardus/Special to the Beacon)

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 fee, a cheetah.

Although the expense of housing a Fee-Line officer is higher than with K-9s, training cost is significantly lower.

“Those things pretty much are gonna do what they’re gonna do,” McNabb said.

Fee-Lines also have been proven to reduce jail overcrowding. A recent study showed that, so far, the program has a 100 percent kill rate.


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