What is a law enforcement k-9 unit?
February 28, 2012
The law enforcement K9 unit is used by law enforcement in a variety of ways. Dogs can accompany officers on patrol and they can be used in specialized narcotics and bomb units to sniff out drugs and locate explosives. They can also be used in SWAT units.
Usually a law enforcement K9 unit includes a dog and a law enforcement handler. The dog and officer work as a team and both are specially trained in K9 policing tactics. If a K9 team is a general patrol unit, they usually work night patrol assignments. Patrol dogs can accompany officers on foot or in a car. They can be used to track suspects, search buildings and locate evidence. They can also be used to track missing individuals in instances of missing children and adults. Because of their highly developed sense of smell, a patrol dog can search and area much faster and more comprehensively than their human counterparts. This saves manpower and gets the job done more safely.
The narcotics division of a law enforcement K9 unit uses dogs to detect marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. They search cars, trucks, houses, businesses, warehouses and yards for hidden drugs. Law enforcement uses the K9 dogs to obtain search warrants in buildings suspected of housing narcotics. Drug sniffing dogs work with narcotics divisions, major crimes units, anti-crime unites and on patrol.
In big cities, a law enforcement K9 unit consists of a sergeant, a training officer and ten to twenty handler officers. Usually the majority of the dogs will be general patrol dogs who carry out a wide range of duties. A few dogs will only do narcotics detection and one or two will have bomb sniffing duties. A K9 unit of this size will have anywhere from ten to twenty dogs who are highly trained in obedience, tracking, defending officers and locating illegal substances.
The training officer in the law enforcement K9 unit works with handlers and dogs to give ongoing training in all areas of their duties and to make sure proper dog obedience is being maintained.
The most common breed of dog used in the law enforcement K9 unit is the German shepherd. They’re valued for their intelligence, strength, loyalty and keen sense of hearing and smell. Some units use the Belgian malinois, which is a dog with similar size and characteristics as the German shepherd. Many dogs on K9 patrol wear bulletproof vests and in some jurisdictions, there are enhanced penalties for harming a canine member of a K9 law enforcement unit.