The St. Michaels Commissioners unanimously agreed Wednesday night to bring K-9 Max out of retirement after residents raised money to fund his continued service.
During the July 14 discussion, St. Michaels Police Chief Anthony Smith touted the benefits of having a narcotics dog and noted Max would likely be able to serve another three years before retiring due to age.
However, Smith noted that Max would be retired sooner if the state legalizes marijuana.
Narcotics dogs trained on marijuana in addition to other narcotics do not differentiate between those drugs. If marijuana is legalized in Maryland, police agencies will need to retire dogs that have been trained to alert on marijuana.
The chief and commissioners agreed that miscommunication had led to the decision to retire Max, with Smith saying he wold “take the heat for that” for not elaborating on the need to keep Max in service during budget deliberations.
“I think that this was a bit more of the discussion that everybody deserved to have” during the town’s budget meetings, Commissioner Jaime Windon said Wednesday night.
“I want to personally apologize to you, chief. Because when I agreed to retire Max, I was convinced and assured that this had the full support of the police department,” Windon said. “It’s clear, it’s abundantly clear tonight, that that’s not the case. I think it would have been a different discussion…. I just hope that that’s clear to everyone who has been confused or disturbed or feels that we have somehow failed the community by what seems to be thought of (as) a rash decision but I can assure you, from this seat it was never a rash decision.”
“I’ll bear sort of responsibility in that because I remember one session, (Commissioner) Tad (DuPont) asked me about what I thought about the dog,” Smith said.
He recalled that his reply was that Max was a deterrent. “I didn’t elaborate like I did tonight and probably going back, looking back, I probably should have.”
Paulette Florio, who presented the offer of donated funds to pay for Max on July 7, thanked the commissioners for bringing the dog out of retirement.
“I can guarantee you that we have the money,” Florio said Wednesday night after DuPont wondered if the offer still stood. “I am keeping the donors anonymous and the money will be at the police department by the weekend.”
Smith had noted that the St. Michaels Police Department already had a framework in place to accept donations through its SMYLE program (St. Michaels Youth and Law Enforcement) and said residents previously had donated funds to help pay for food for Max.