Sen. Danny Burgess and Rep. Lawrence McClure filed the request for the funding (SF 2313, HB 2927), asking for $2 million to cover the entirety of the project. The funding was requested on behalf of Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, and promoted by Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies lobbyist Jeff Johnston. The Temple Terrace Police Department and Plant City Police Department also wrote letters of support for this project.
The funds would be used to construct a new law enforcement K-9 training and boarding facility for the office, according to the request. There, the K-9 and handler teams can train and have secure boarding. The facility would also provide a space for other organizations’ K-9 and handler teams to train.
The goal of the new facility is to enhance HCSO’s K-9 team in areas of patrol, narcotic and explosives detection, and tracking of missing or endangered persons, according to the request. The facility would be equipped with features like secure explosives and narcotics training aids, scent walls, a classroom, spaces to train K-9s and personnel, and kennels with indoor and outdoor access.
The facility is projected to cost $4 million over the next two years. Funds are expected to be requested next year for the facility’s boarding area, according to the request.
The HCSO Canine Section was deployed 1,299 times from November 1, 2020 to November 1, 2021, including requests to respond to assist seven other law enforcement agencies, according to the request.
Currently, HCSO’s K-9 Unit has 21 dogs and 18 deputies/handlers, according to the office’s website. The dogs join the office when they are between 1 and 3 years old, and must complete 480 hours of training before they can earn certification. After reaching 7-8 years of age, the canines retire and become the deputy’s family pet.