New London Police Union
K-9 officer Bessie is pictured with handler Kyle Gorra, who recently left the New London Police Department for the State Police.
The New London mayor's office has announced that its police department will be keeping K-9 officer Bessie after all.
The bloodhound was to be donated to another agency when her handler left the force and budget cuts led the city to whittle down its K-9 unit.
The mayor's office announced Tuesday that Bessie will be assigned to a new officer and continue working with the New London Police Department.
Bessie and fellow police dog Buck were caught in a wave of controversy when the city decided to keep only one of its three K-9 officers.
Drug-sniffing shepherd Buck was retired after the city said it could no longer afford his arthritis medication, which cost about $720 per year, according to Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. Buck joined the police force in 2008.
When Bessie's handler, Kyle Gorra, accepted a position with the State Police, Bessie ended up in a kennel, awaiting transfer to another law enforcement agency.
New London residents fought back, expressing their concern about the dwindling size of the K-9 unit.
"We don't want to lose the dogs one by one for various reasons and then have no K-9 unit," said Anita Miller, who owns Goldy's Restaurant on Coleman Street.
The police department has faced other problems too. According to the police union website, 12 officers left the department last month. The police chief warned that up to 15 layoffs are possible.
"We've had police officers that are leaving the city for fear of being laid off," said City Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran.
Many residents worry that a city of New London's size demands a stronger, more extensive police force. They're concerned that losing two K-9s and a dozen officers will mean bad news for New London.
"I reiterate my position that crime is being reduced throughout the city, especially related to major crimes, and our patrol strength is adequate to meet our public safety needs at this time," said Mayor Finizio in a public statement.
Although Buck has left the force to live with the family of his former handler, New London residents have won a hard-fought battle, because Bessie is here to stay.