The K-9 unit is part of the Patrol Operations Division. The K-9 officer is responsible for a patrol division to assist other officers, but are subject to call-out. The unit is supervised by a sergeant. Before being selected for the K-9 unit, each canine is thoroughly tested to determine its natural prey drive, play desire, courage, and socialization. The best age for training is one to two years old. Today, many of the dogs are imported from the Netherlands, Czech Republic or Slovokia and are specifically bred for police work. The handlers assist in the selection of the dog so that the officer can better form a strong bond with the animal. If the officer is new to the unit, the officer will use this bonding time to build a special kennel at their home for the dog. One of the most difficult facets of the handler's training is learning to understand what the dog is trying to communicate to the handler; the dogs cannot lie, so communication is through body language, and this can be difficult to learn.

Training of a new dog and handler lasts anywhere from eight to ten weeks with two weeks consisting of street-type situations. Besides basic obedience, canines are trained in tracking, building and outdoor searches, narcotics detection, apprehension, and handler protection. Most of the commands to the canines are in German and the canines train around other canines, humans, traffic, gunfire, and any other conditions they may encounter in real situations. Complete control of the dog by the handler is a must. Dogs use their sense of smell for searches and are able to cover a larger area much faster and more efficiently than a team of officers. The training of the dogs is an on-going process that continues as long as the dog is a working member of the unit. The handler/canine team is required to have at least four hours of continuing training each week.

Click HERE to contact K-9 Sergeant B. Patin.