A dog is man’s best friend. But when our four-legged friends take on the role of helping law enforcement officers protect a city, then these canines become even stronger in our lives and our communities.
Several cities in the area, including Arlington, Frisco, DeSoto and Lancaster, have strong police departments containing K9 units.
Numerous K9s in the City of Arlington
Up until a few weeks ago, the City of Arlington had three K9s on its team; Finn, a mix of Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd, Hank, a Belgian Malinois, and Mojo, a Belgian Malinois who recently passed away after an intense suspect search.
As is obvious in the case of Mojo, these K9s go above and beyond, sniffing out the best and the worst in a situation and doing an exemplary job.
“There are numerous aspects of the K9 Team that make it an imperative component of the police department,” said City of Arlington Assistant Chief of Police, Field Operations Bureau, Kevin Kolbye. “However, among the most important aspects are the dog's senses, specifically the olfactory senses. A canine's sense of smell is far superior to humans — this trait coupled with the drive of the Police Service Dog (PSD), makes the PSD an excellent tool to locate criminals and evidence.”
In fact, the PSD is often a visual and audible deterrent to criminals to cease their flight from officers.
“A few months ago, officers from several jurisdictions were in pursuit of a felony suspect in a stolen vehicle,” said Kolbye. “The controlling supervisor requested that the K9 Units take over the primary positions in the pursuit, placing them directly behind the stolen vehicle. When the suspect was later apprehended, he was interviewed and indicated that he intended to flee on foot once his vehicle ran out of fuel. However, when he observed the K9 Unit vehicles directly behind him, he knew any efforts to flee would be futile and would possibly result in injury to him. He immediately surrendered to officers when the vehicle ran out of fuel."
Police Service Dogs are also an excellent way to engage citizens in the community and pique their interest in the department's operations.
“So many people love dogs today, and our police dogs are often a way for us to find common ground with our citizens,” Kolbye added.
Arlington’s K9 Teams train and are certified to locate and apprehend dangerous, violent criminals. In addition to the apprehension discipline, the K9 Teams train and are certified to also detect illegal narcotics. In all, the K9 teams in Arlington have more than 50 years of combined police dog experience, and more than 70 years of combined law enforcement experience.
Lancaster’s K9 Perks Up All Of His Two-legged Colleagues
A bit newer to the K9 game, the City of Lancaster has a 7-year-old German Shepherd name Rex whose partner’s name is Sergeant Logan. Together, this team tracks suspects and locates articles discarded by suspects. Rex can detect narcotics.
With the department since 2012, Logan said, “K9 Rex is a morale booster by the fact that officers perk up when he makes his rounds in briefing, making contact with each officer and getting his daily scratch from each of them.”
In Lancaster, Rex has located a number of fleeing suspects. Officers say Rex provides assistance if they believe a vehicle may be transporting narcotics. If they need help searching for a suspect or need to search a large structure, Rex will always be available to assist with a quick response to the location.
K9s live with their handlers, too, becoming part of the family and usually staying on as a family pet after they retire. Training anywhere from four to eight weeks at an accredited training facility, in the case of his and Rex’s training, Logan said they continue to train regularly in order to stay sharp, both at the Police Station and out in the field while on duty.
Frisco’s K9 Just Happens to be Female
While most K9’s on the various police forces are males, the Frisco Police Department has a female PSD named Cali. Cali is the first K9 Frisco has had in 20 years. K9 Officer J. Sample said the two have been working together for 18 months, including five weeks of training and getting certified as a team in Mississippi.
As a 5-year-old German Shepherd, Sample said that Cali is trained in narcotics detection, handler protection, tracking and evidence recovery.
“Most police agencies use either German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, or Belgian Malinois for all purpose K9s,” Sample explained. “The K9 Team does a lot of community outreach such as talking to Girl Scouts, Junior Police Academies, schools, and Citizens Police Academy. K9 Cali is also a great deterrent for crime and several wanted felons have given up without incident once they hear K9 Cali.”
City of DeSoto Has Arsen
Of course, one K9 that can’t go unnoticed is Arsen in the City of DeSoto. A 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, Arsen is known for his prowess tracking for fleeing suspects, article searches as well as building, area and suspect searches.
DeSoto Police Department Lt. May said that Arsen and his handler are a two-officer unit backing each other up without hesitation. In fact, he’s the only tool used once the K9 team has been deployed.
K9s Wear Vests, Too
Since the K9 handler has a bulletproof vest, it is also important that the K9 have a vest, too. While Rex does not have his vest yet, Logan said that Camryn's K9 Foundation has donated a vest for him that is currently on back order.
In Arlington, Finn has a vest, as did Mojo; the department is in the final stages of outfitting Hank with his own ballistic vest.
K9 Cali has her own bulletproof/stab-proof vest, provided with funds raised by Girl Scouts in Frisco.
“The vest is approximately eight pounds, which is very cumbersome for a 60 lb. German Shepherd, but with that said, she does not wear it all the time because it is too cumbersome,” Sample explained. “She will wear it in situations where we know we are going into a known threat.”
Arsen sports a vest, too, which the citizens of DeSoto donated to the department for him.
“The ballistic vests for the PSDs are similar to that of officers,” said Kolbye. “It covers the abdominal region of the canine, offering protection from bullets. The handlers carry the vests in their assigned police vehicles and deploy the canines with the vests as needed.”
As for the rewards of working with a strong, stealthy partner, Sample concluded, “Getting to train the K9 and watch the K9 accomplish its job out on the street after all the hard work and training with the K9 is very rewarding.”