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The K9 Mission

R.S. Eden

The information in this file is an excerpt from “K9 Officers Manual”, available from Ray Allen Mfg at 1-800-444-0404. The dog training book “Dog Training For Law Enforcement” is also available from Ray Allen Mfg.

The primary initiative for the K9 team is to search for and locate suspects or evidence that can be linked to a specific crime scene. The dog is one of the few investigative tools that is available to the patrol team.

The support service provided by the dog section can go beyond the primary initiative in ways that are very effective. They can can be used to locate missing persons, detect illicit drugs or explosives and to back up patrol on calls where the dogs presence can have a psychological effect, or where his physical abilities may deter or prevent violent confrontation.

Another function that you will need to perform as a dog team is public demonstrations. This may seem unimportant, however it is vital to the success of a good dog program in that it builds support from the public sector. It also brings positive media support which is a must for any department wishing to have a succesful dog section. Public awareness can be positive and supportive but it can also be destructive. The abandonment of a dog program can be surprisingly swift with the onset of bad press and negative public pressure.

A good team must realize that the purpose of the dog team is to serve as a support service for patrol officers. Your obliga tions are to your fellow members. Just as identification section is a support service that responds to a crime scene at the re quest of a field officer, so is the mandate of the dog handler. You are there to assist them in locating evidence for a case or in tracking down a suspect that has left a crime scene that patrol is investigating.

You cannot be successful as a dog handler without the sup port of patrol. Your credibility will go a long way in getting the assistance you need from them. Never make excuses for you or your dog if you come up empty handed. One of the major things I have run into in my experience as a handler is that if you catch the crook you and your dog are heroes. If you come up empty handed, nobody on your shift knows you anymore.

There will be days when your dog is just not successful. Reasons for failure can be almost anything. In most cases there is just too much contamination and intereference of the scent for the dog to work it successfully. There will be days when your dog is just not up to it, just as there are days when you get up and just don’t feel like going to work.

The dog team is not out on the street to provide a form of “street justice” by mauling suspects. You are an effective means of locating and apprehending criminals. Your attitude and pro fessionalism will be apparent in the manner in which you apply your dog. Ensure that you are always justified in applying the dog before putting him out. In other words, ensure that the crime for which you are deploying your dog is arrestable before setting the dog on a track. If there is any doubt at all, do not apply your dog in a manner that will allow him to make physical contact with the pursued subject.

Know your department policies regarding dog applications and adhere to those regulations. Those policies will provide you with job demands specifically tailored to your departments need that will guide you in your deployment.

Bruce Jackson, when teaching a course in Washington State summed up the K9 mission in an excellent manner. To quote his conclusion:

“Your mission is clear cut and well defined. The set of philosophies you develop in order to achieve that mission will determine whether you make a beneficial contribution to the role police dogs play in modern law enforcement or whether you become a liability that undermines the good work of many men before you.”

Note: More advanced information on this subject during sessions instructed at the International Police K9 Conferences held annually in various locations throughout North America.

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