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  • Fairbury News staff

Program suspended; chief hired

K-9 Jax at a previous Fairbury City Council meeting.

The City of Fairbury has announced the temporary suspension of its K-9 program and the hiring of a new police chief.

A news release issued by the city indicates the dog’s handler has been hired by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Department. Jax still lives in Fairbury and will give local citizens “continued access to a K-9 via the county Sheriff’s Department while also recouping a portion of the funds to restart our own K-9 program when staffing allows,” the release stated.

“We (are) a couple of officers short at the moment – we are down to about half staff,” explained Mayor David Slagel. “We didn’t feel we were in a position where we could either send someone else to training to be the handler or we’d be able to hire somebody to take the position in the next couple of weeks because he gave us two weeks’ notice.”

Due to Jax’s temperament, he could be difficult to re-train for a different handler, according to Slagel. The city felt the best option was to see if the county could take the dog and squad car as well. Slagel said this would still allow the use of a K-9 in the area plus some of the donated funds could be recouped and put back into a K-9 fund to be used when the program is re-established.

“We would like to thank all those who donated to get our K-9 program off the ground and to assure you that those remaining funds as well as the funds received from this sale will be reserved explicitly for reinstating the K-9 program when we are able,” the city said.

Council members gave the mayor a broad price range of what to accept for the dog and car but left the negotiating up to him. A final dollar amount will likely be approved at the next regular council meeting.

In another matter, the city has hired Robert McCormick as its newest chief of police to replace Mark Travis who gave his notice to resign earlier this month.

“It was completely his decision and he did not really expand on it,” Slagel said, referring to Travis’ resignation.

Slagel appointed McCormick to the post and the council gave its final approval. A contract for the new chief is expected to be approved at the next council meeting.

The mayor hopes the community remains supportive during the transitions.

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