BELFAST — The City Council approved two proposals by Belfast Police Chief Robert Cormier during its Aug. 2 meeting, one unanimously and the other through a tight 3-2 vote.

The unanimously approved request was Cormier’s proposal that the department reinstate the department’s K-9 program, while the other was to institute a motorcycle control program.

Cormier said when he became police chief, he was told the department previously had a K-9 program and he had been asked to look into possibly reinstituting that program. He said in preparation for presenting a proposal to the council he spoke with a number of breeders and handlers. One of the vendors he spoke with is Katalyst Kennels in Litchfield, Conn. Cormier said one of the dogs the kennel has available is a 1-year-old black Labrador retriever named Spud. The cost for acquiring the dog would be $9,000.

Cormier said that in speaking with local police agencies, he felt there was an important need for a dog that has search and rescue capabilities. He said Spud would come fully trained and could be used not only for search and rescue purposes, but also for related article searches and for narcotics detection.

One of the important aspects of bringing a dog into the department would be getting a dog that could be a part of the community and would be able to go into local schools and interact with the public, Cormier said. He added that he had been told by the trainer that the dog has been trained to be good with children and area residents.

Cormier said if the council approved acquisition of the K-9, the department could take delivery in four to five weeks. He said training of the prospective handler would begin in September.

“I really think this would be a great solution for the department,” Cormier said, adding that he felt it would help morale, officer retention and recruitment.

Cormier said the department already has a vehicle equipped for K-9 use, as well as the equipment necessary for such a program.

“We can really hit the ground running,” he said.

Councilors voiced their support for the program with councilor Paul Dean saying that while he was concerned when he first read the proposal, $9,000 for a fully trained police dog sounded like a reasonable price. He noted that the dog would be an important ambassador for the department.

Councilors Brenda Bonneville and Mike Hurley also voiced their support for the idea during discussions regarding the proposal. Ultimately, the council voted 5-0 to approve reinstating the K-9 program.

The motorcycle control program met with more resistance, specifically from Councilors Bonneville and Hurley.

The proposal presented by Cormier would have the department lease a Harley Davidson motorcycle outfitted for police work at a cost of $4,410 per year. Cormier said the motorcycle would be dedicated to highway safety initiatives and traffic enforcement-related activities. Cormier said the motorcycle could also be used for other safety situations, such as parades and other similar events.

Cormier said he felt adding a motorcycle to the department could also enhance the department’s recruitment and retention initiatives and would be another new and exciting development for the department.

Hurley said his main concern is the number of motorcycle accidents that occur in general. He said motorcycles are generally unsafe vehicles. He also referenced an earlier time when the city tackled the amount of noise created by motorcycles and said there are many people in the city who do not like motorcycles. Hurley said he also wanted to know how the addition of a motorcycle would effect the city’s insurance rates.

Bonneville said she was also not a supporter of the idea of adding a motorcycle to the department. She brought up a potential issue with noise from the motorcycle and said she didn’t feel as though the motorcycle program was a friendly program, like the prior discussion of reinstating the K-9 program.

Councilor Harkness said he was still making up his mind on the issue, adding that noise was a concern of his, as well. He asked Cormier whether it might be possible to have limitations on when a police motorcycle could be used.

Cormier said the plan would be to use the motorcycle primarily during the day for traffic enforcement and that the vehicle would not be used past 8 or 9 p.m.

Mayor Eric Sanders said he looks at the issue as one of tools available to the department. He said one of the worries he has is potential disasters or a crisis in the city, like those that have happened in other communities around the country. He said motorcycles have the ability to get into places that a car might not. He said for that reason alone, a motorcycle could be of extreme value.

In response to councilor concerns about safety and noise, Dean said that danger and police departments go hand in hand. Dean also said that the factory exhaust on a Harley Davidson is quiet.

As the council continued to debate the issue, City Manager Erin Herbig said emergency management jobs are some of the jobs the city has trouble filling. She said the city is offering $20,000 in sign-on bonuses and can’t get anyone for those jobs. She said one of the things that impressed her was when the chief opened up the possibility of a motorcycle officer, five officers voiced an interest in being assigned that role. She focused on the fact that having these types of programs could help attract more officers to the department.

Councilor Mary Mortier said that while she was concerned about the noise, she saw the benefit of having a motorcycle officer, especially in accident-related situations, in that motorcycles could get into an area a squad car could not. Ultimately Dean, Mortier and Harkness voted for the proposal, while Bonneville and Hurley opposed the measure.