ACSO to lend K-9 unit to GPD

Alachua County Sheriff's Office sign
Photo by Suzette Cook

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office announced it will lend its K-9 unit to the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) after GPD’s unit was placed on limited duty.

According to an ACSO announcement on Wednesday, Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr., Gainesville City Manager Cynthia Curry and Gainesville Police Chief Lonnie Scott met to address public safety pertaining to the use of law enforcement K-9s within Gainesville.

“Based upon the current staffing levels of the Gainesville Police Department K-9 Unit, a formal request was made by Chief Scott and City Manager Curry to Sheriff Watson asking that the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office assist with providing an ASO K-9 in the event that the GPD K-9 is unavailable,” the release stated.

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Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.
Courtesy of Alachua County Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.

The release added that an additional request was made that Watson make his special operations staff—specifically the K-9 unit—available to GPD for specialized training of their K-9 handlers and the K-9s.

The meeting was held just days after Curry said she would pull the GPD K-9 unit on Friday and reassign the officers to address other department needs, saying the decision would be temporary and that it would reevaluate the K-9 unit in the upcoming fiscal year 2024 budget.

The city’s decision also came amid scrutiny surrounding GPD’s arrest of Terrell Bradley last July, which involved a K-9 biting Bradley, resulting in two broken fingers, the loss of his right eye, and spinal leakage.

GPD suspended Ranger, the K-9 involved in the incident, following community protests. An independent investigation later found the K-9 unit followed protocol, but GPD still disciplined five officers for “improper behavior”  during Bradley’s arrest.

Cynthia Curry
Courtesy city of Gainesville Cynthia Curry

On Feb. 21, Bradley’s lawyer sent a letter to Curry seeking a settlement with the city to cover $250,000 in medical bills. 

GPD had put the K-9 unit on patrol duty in January, but Scott recently announced the squad returned to regular duty on Feb. 17. Curry, who went from interim to permanent city manager on Feb. 2, requested more information from GPD after Scott’s announcement, then decided to pull the squad again, according to the city’s Friday release.  

Besides the financial cost, community members continue to voice concerns about the squad and to call for its disbandment. A group met at City Hall on March 1 to protest the unit following its return to service. 

Both the Police Advisory Council and Public Safety Committee plan to discuss the K-9 squad at their March meetings. The Public Safety Committee will meet on March 27. 

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Cool at least GPD won’t be totally without K-9 assistance…. hurry up and put GPD back together or this town will get even worse…. if that’s even possible