What’s a dog to do? For years you provide faithful, loyal service and one day — almost on a whim — the man at the top says so long, it’s been nice to know you.

That’s where Bosco (the wonder dog) finds himself today. Following a lawsuit filed by his handler, Chief Jim Lyles says the McAlester Police Department has no use for Bosco. The chief says there’s no money for the K9 program so it’s history.

That is a hard one to swallow.

Lyles and City Manager Mark Roath (he’s all for giving Bosco the boot also) should hang their heads in shame. Saying there isn’t money is a cop out. McAlester, like all too many cities in America, needs a specialist like Bosco to help root out drugs and get them off the streets.

Getting rid of Bosco represents a colossal dereliction of duty and someone, other than Bosco, should be held accountable.

Of course that probably won’t happen. Bosco, after all, doesn’t have a union representative or a lawyer. He is, after all, only a dog. The functionaries who have found it so easy to eliminate the K9 program will, in all likelihood, prevail unscathed.

There is more at play here, however, than just sending Bosco out the door. If this program — one with demonstrated success — can be so blithely eliminated, what about others?

How long before we hear the deciders telling us we really don’t need as many police officers as we have? Honestly, they might say, this city could get by with 14, 15, 16 or even fewer officers on patrol. Why not let the numbers fall by attrition? That is, as officers retire, let’s leave those positions empty. Surely, the argument might be, the people of this city will think the cost savings outweigh the need for a fully staffed police force.

Bosco is just the tip of the iceberg. This police dog may be the trendsetter: Eliminate programs and people to save money now.

If this attitude prevails, and the people of this city allow it, who is to say how safe we all will be? Bosco (the wonder dog) is off duty and that must come as some comfort to drug traffickers and dealers. Imagine how much happier those ne’re-do-wells will be when the city starts cutting two-legged crimefighters too.

Matt Lane is the editor of the McAlester News-Capital. Send him hate mail or encouragement to: Editor, P.O. Box 987, McAlester, OK, 74501. Call him at 421-2022 or e-mail to editor@mcalesternews.com.

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