Is your department considering a K9 program? Other than the benefit of having furry friends to keep your officers company, there are many professional advantages to launching a K9 program. Hollywood depicts K9s as vicious beasts usually used for attacking criminals. But, detaining criminals only account for 5% of the K9s responsibilities. So, what do K9s do on a regular day, and how does it benefit the department overall?
Drugs and Bombs
A K9s keen sense of smell helps them to detect items that a human officer might miss, especially drugs and bombs. With training, K9s can even sniff out drugs that are sealed in plastic.
K9s can also be used to search for flammables and explosives. And a positive indication from a K9 is legal grounds to establish probable cause for a search.
K9s are frequently used to track missing people in search-and-rescue missions. Once a dog is given a piece of an item with the scent of a specific person, they can lead the police down the path that person took. This is also useful when tracking down suspects or escaped convicts. K9s can quickly lead teams down the right way. During a pursuit or search and rescue mission, every minute counts, so having this extra knowledge is invaluable.
A PR Blessing
It’s quite common for K9s to make an appearance at local community events. These well-trained and adorable employees help to bond community members with their local police officers. Kids and families may be more likely to approach and engage with a police officer that has a friendly dog nearby.
K9s are often brought to special events such as holiday celebrations, parades, and music festivals. This is mostly for the public’s safety, so explosives aren’t left in the crowd. Additionally, it can be easy to chase suspects within a crowd, and a K9 can easily zoom in and out of people’s legs to apprehend anyone suspicious.
Officer Safety and Suspect Apprehension
At the end of the day, when it’s needed, a K9 can and will attack a suspect. This can be incredibly beneficial when detaining an individual or protecting an officer. However, this is usually a very small portion of a K9s overall role. An apprehension bite is the last resort when it comes to an arrest or a confrontation.
A K9 program isn’t cheap. The cost of a single K9 can be as much as $10,000 upfront, and that doesn’t include the training of the dog and its handler, which can cost thousands more. Additionally, there are more expenses, such as insurance and specialized patrol vehicles. This endeavour requires a big budget. However, once it’s up and running, most departments can’t imagine going back to the days without a K9 program.