Opinion: Cash for K9

The mounted camera on a K-9 unit is the subject of this fundraiser.

By Ethan Walshe

Safety has become the talk of the town since December. New measures have been introduced at every school and now, the Westford Police Department is holding a fundraiser to raise money to acquire a new camera and mounting system for the K-9 unit. The project is set to cost approximately $15,000 and is being spearheaded by the police department, Westford Academy business teacher Christine Cournoyer, and Ginni Burgoyne. The full text of the proposal can be read here.

I understand that safety is important, but is this really the best use of $15,000 of people’s money, mounting a camera on a K-9 unit so that they can go into dangerous situations and scan the area before humans get involved? The same could be accomplished with a Go-Pro and a remote controlled, an arguably cheaper alternative.

Yes, there is something to be said for the natural instincts of the dog and its training, but a person could just as easily operate this device without endangering the lives of any people or any animals. According to the full text of the project, this camera is to ensure the safety of the officers on scene, but what about the safety of the unaccompanied dog? What’s to stop whatever criminal from harming this creature?

The proposed $15,000 would come directly from donations, so it’s not like any tax dollars are going towards the project. Those who believe in the cause can contribute to it and those who disagree can only reap any benefits that result. That’s fine by me, but I know for a fact that none of my money will go towards this project. I do not think it necessary for the town. Better that the $15,000 go to some other measures deemed necessary by the town.

The news of this proposed fundraiser was relayed to every teacher in the Westford Public School system, most likely because a teacher is involved in the campaign. But is this really appropriate? I understand that since a teacher in the system is a direct supporter and campaigner for the cause it may have seemed logical to spread the message through this channel, but the fact remains that it implies a sense of duty and obligation to donate to those who received the message. Spreading the word is key to any fundraiser, but the schools should be kept separate from this particular variety of optional campaign.

I understand that this is apparently a commonplace action, spreading the message through school email. If a teacher starts a Relay For Life team he or she is allowed to ask for support from his or her colleagues via mass email, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay. The practice of mass emails in the workplace as a means to fundraise seems unprofessional to me.

I suppose my main objection to this recent campaign is that it just seems unnecessary. People get swept up in post-tragedy feelings and try to do everything they can to stop it from happening again, even when those proposed measures could be unnecessary. Yes, the events of Newtown, CT were atrocious and I would be disgusted to ever see something like that happen again, but people shouldn’t allow their emotions to cloud their judgement. Perhaps $15,000 would be better spent towards increased mental healthcare or campaigns to raise awareness about domestic violence to truly make this town a safer place. Everyone always says “think of the children” but there is certainly more than one way to do so.