Cpl. Chris Arnold has been selected as the new K-9 handler for the Van Buren Police Department.

Arnold is a 19-year veteran of the department.

“I have always wanted to do this,” Arnold said. “It has been one of my career goals."

On Dec. 10, Arnold and Lt. Larry Brown will go to Denver, Ind., to select and pick up the VBPD’s K-9 partner from Vohne Liche Kennels.

Arnold will go to Hernando, Miss., on Jan. 15 to attend a 10-week K-9 handler course.

Brown said the police department is in the process of building a kennel and slab to house the K-9 at Arnold’s residence.

Arnold’s K-9 vehicle, 2018 Chevy Tahoe, has been painted and is having decals put on it.

“We are waiting for all the equipment that needs to be installed,” Brown said. “It may or may not be ready for our Indiana trip, but should be ready for when Chris leaves for school in Mississippi.”

Arnold said he used to live down the street from Brown when Brown was the K-9 handler for the Van Buren Police Department.

“Even before I joined the department I used to help Lt. Brown with his K-9,” Arnold recalled.

At the Van Buren City Council meeting in September, the council gave its support to Police Chief Jamie Hammond’s request for a K-9 unit which the VBPD has not had since 2008 when the department’s K-9 officer Michael Bowman went to the Arkansas State Police.

Hammond estimated the cost would be about $75,000, including $15,000 for the dog and its training as well as the officer’s training and a K-9 vehicle which the department purchased from Superior Chevrolet in Siloam Springs for $31,863. Hammond said Prosecuting Attorney Marc McCune has pledged $20,000 for the K-9 unit.

While drug detection is the most common use for the K-9, Hammond said the dog also can be used for tracking evidence and finding lost people.

“A K-9 unit is not only a deterrent of criminal activity, but it can be useful for community engagement,” Hammond said. “With our own K-9 unit, we would not have to rely on the Fort Smith Police Department and the Arkansas State Police for their help.”

City Attorney Candice Settle said the K-9 unit could pay for itself with forfeitures of money and property during drug arrests.