Police Weapons Part 2: K-9 Unit - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Police Weapons Part 2: K-9 Unit

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Yesterday we talked about how police resort to weapons that are the least lethal to deploy.

Yesterday you learned about police weapons and when officers would resort to deploying them.  Today we will be learning about another asset, and this one has four legs instead two.

Officer Clint Houston of the GFPD, and tender of Shep, said of the unit, "We promote the safety of our officers in the community by utilizing the canines."

These dogs contribute to variety of situations while out with an officer.

Houston said, "We help out in an array of different things as simple finding lost property.  Our dogs can assist with finding lost people, can assist with building searches, traces of suspects, and they also do narcotics work."

Officer Katie Cunningham, who's dog is Oakley, said "Oakley is a duel purpose patrol dog, so he does criminal apprehension and narcotics detection, as do all of our dogs.  So what you're seeing a lot of right now is a lot of tracking, some narcotics, but a lot of tracking."

Some may think the dogs would sniff individuals, but not the dogs in the GFPD's Canine Unit.

When I asked of the kind of dog Shep is and if I had narcotics on me, Houston said, "there's two types of alerts.  There's a passive alert, and an aggressive alert.  Our dogs are aggressive alert which means they don't sit like a passive alert dog would sit when he's in the odor of a narcotic, and our dogs will scratch at it.  And that's why we don't, you asked to do a search on you.  That won't work well."

As officer Houston politely put it, I'd get mauled if in possession of narcotics, but after being in the field how do these dogs keep up with the sense of smell to pinpoint the location at hand?

I was able to witness training for the K-9 Unit and Cunningham said they do "a number of things today.  What we're setting up now is an area search.  So say we had a felon who was just a threat to society who might take off from us, so we're going to simulate them running and barricading or hiding in a car of some sort, we're going to use a couple of wrecker cars here and the dog is going to track and apprehend them, and if he can't apprehend them he is going to bark until we can get to them."

It does take time for the odor of a target to be detectable for a canine.  If it is a person they are in search of, the target has to be in a specific area for at least 10 minutes.  For the odor of narcotics, it has to be in the location for at least forty minutes before detectable.

While that looked intense and aggressive, the dogs are by no means mean.  They just have to follow a series of commands.

Houston said of the K-9's, "Our dogs are not vicious, and they are not mean.  Our dogs do what we ask them to do and when we ask them to do it, and they are trained to apprehend a suspect."

And just like the tazer yesterday, the K-9's are a less lethal means of apprehension.

"They're considered a less lethal option and no more so on the use of force continuum," said Houston.

And they can find anything besides people and drugs.  Literally!

Houston said, "We could use a canine to find your keys out in the field."

In the end, you can't put anything past Hondo, Oakley, or Shep.

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