OPD proposes more police dogs in budget session

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The Oxford Police Department is making room for more K9s in its agency.

During the City of Oxford’s budget sessions with the Board of Aldermen, OPD Chief Jeff McCutchen announced that adjustments were made to the OPD’s K-9 supplies budget for adding at least one more police dog.

“We feel comfortable adding at least one dog or maybe two dogs,” said McCutchen.

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Just in March, the OPD introduced its newest four-legged member of the police department, the K-9 Jocko. 

Jocko is a one-year-old black Labrador retriever from Little Rock K-9 Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas. He received several months of training from Little Rock K-9 Academy before he and his handler, K9 Officer Brandon Byrd, spent two weeks of K-9 handler training together. Jocko is trained in narcotics detection, tracking, and article searches. 

Morgan White Group founder Johnny Morgan donated money to the OPD to use for special projects and McCutchen then chose to acquire the new K-9.

McCutchen said future additions to the K-9 unit could be funded by the state itself this time.

“We think the state is going to provide this one with our grant,” McCutchen. “There could be more dogs than that, so we wanted to go ahead and budget for that.”

Ward II Aldermen Mark Huelse questioned how OPD and K-9 units would handle marijuana possession cases with the state’s medical marijuana law in effect.

“With the medical marijuana, you can’t untrain a dog,” said Huelse. 

McCutchen acknowledged that the dogs could not be untrained in detecting marijuana. He said it would change how OPD officers would proceed in cases of marijuana possession.

“Let’s say we go up to a traffic stop and we smell it. If we smell it, the dog hits and they don’t have a card, then the probable cause fits,” McCutchen said. “If they have a card, then we have to find another element of probable cause that fits.”

McCutchen said the dogs will not have to be retrained or considered invalid.