Push for dog unit in Bendigo

WANTED: A general duties police dog, flown in from Melbourne, assists in the search for four men in Bendigo last week. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
WANTED: A general duties police dog, flown in from Melbourne, assists in the search for four men in Bendigo last week. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

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A former Victoria Police commissioner says it may be viable for Bendigo to host a regional dog squad centre that could service other locations outside Melbourne.

Kel Glare, who was chief commissioner between 1987 and 1992, said the idea had merit – as long as the economics stacked up.

“The dog squad member at Bendigo could cover Bendigo, Ballarat and Shepparton probably and be a lot quicker than coming from Melbourne,” he said.

“It’s something that needs some properly directed research.”

Mr Glare’s comments come after the dog squad was called to Bendigo last week to assist in the attempted arrest of a number of wanted men, who remain at large, which was ultimately unsuccessful.

He said there was “no doubt” regional Victoria was at a disadvantage when it came to police resourcing, but establishing a regional dog squad base would be expensive as the animals would need to train continually if not attending regular “live” operations.

“There needs to be a proper business case, an assessment of what the economics of it are,” he said.

“There’s a need for resources everywhere and they can’t be wasted.”

Police Minister Lisa Neville said while the state’s police dogs currently lived with their handlers “in different locations around the state”, they were all trained at a centralised, high-intensity centre in Melbourne's north.

“Police dogs and their handlers are on the frontline of policing, working closely with general duties officers across Victoria to take down dangerous and violent offenders,” she said.

“The dog squad provide a statewide response, deploying from different parts of Victoria, and often work in close co-ordination with the police air wing.”

Central Victorian Response Unit detective sergeant Steve Rainey said last Thursday’s operation, despite being unsuccessful, highlighted the canine unit’s importance.

“We’d love the opportunity to work with them on a more regular basis,” he said.

“We’ll continue to use all the resources that were available yesterday in further operations”

A Victoria Police spokesman said while response times varied on a case-by-case basis, the dog squad utilised a number of different resources to transport their members, including the police air wing, in order to get to incidents in the most timely fashion.