The Canine Unit was established to augment police services to the community. Highly skilled and trained teams of handlers and canines have evolved from the program and are used to supplement police and tactical operations to locate individuals, contraband and to apprehend dangerous criminal offenders.
The police canines are a tremendous asset to the department and community and are often referred to as a force multiplier. With some tasks, they can do the work of a team of officers in much less time. Their presence alone on a violent crime call, a high-risk vehicle stop, or when contacting a group of gang members can gain the compliance of multiple suspects or convince hiding or fleeing suspects to surrender. The use of canines is imperative in the fight against crime and provides protection for officers and the community. K9 officers and their partners also conduct numerous demonstrations at community events and schools every year.
The K9 Unit consists of one supervisor assigned to oversee the unit, three police officers assigned as handlers, and three German Shepherds. Currently, one canine is working and two new dogs are in basic training. The working canine, "Fin,” is four years old and was born in Europe. He is a police service dog used primarily to track and locate criminals, apprehend fleeing suspects who are a safety risk, and for crowd control. Our Labrador Retriever, “Vertex,” was retired last year.
Canine handlers and their dogs go through rigorous training to meet the strict standards of police and K9 work. Officer/K9 partners are required to complete a month long training course, followed by specialized training in tracking and apprehension. In addition to these courses, the dog and handler attend monthly training sessions programs to stay certified in their specialized skills. When the dogs are not working, they live with their handler at home and will eventually retire as the family pet.