Thursday, November 5, 2009

KCPD welcomes new canines

An article from our newest monthly newsletter highlights the many new canine officers to come to our department in the past few months as we've added a new shift to the Canine Section and a new bomb/accelerant-sniffing dog. Above are Officer Krista Huth and her dog Ero, and Detective Mike Luster and his dog, Derin. Here's their story:

They train using boxes, a padded sleeve and an occasional treat. These are the working dogs of the Canine and Bomb and Arson Sections.

The Canine Section has a total of 12 dogs, up from six earlier in the year before the Section expanded to both an A.M. and P.M. shift. The Section recently added three new dogs and two replacement dogs.

When the Canine Section expanded from one to two shifts in May 2009, they did so to aid officers on the street, said Captain Randall Jacobs, Patrol Support Unit Commander.

“We wanted to increase the service to the district officers,” he said. “We needed narcotics and patrol dogs available during the daytime hours too.”

The new shift means dogs are now available 20 hours a day, twice as much as before.

Officers John Cullen and Scott Nelson said they both left assignments they enjoyed to join the Canine Section. This, they admitted, was an assignment they both had wanted since their days as recruits.

Officer Krista Huth agreed. As the only female in the section, she describes her assignment in Canine as her dream job. All three officers started their new assignments in February 2009, training their new canine partners to be effective narcotics and patrol dogs - dual purpose dogs. Officer Cullen’s dog, Rambo II, and Officer Nelson’s dog, Spyk, are both Belgian Malinois. Officer Huth’s dog, Ero, is a Czech Shepherd.

Sergeant Bill Brown, supervisor of the day shift, began his Canine assignment in August. His first dog, Benno, was returned to the kennel because of serious health problems. Sergeant Brown picked up his new dog, Kazan, in October and works with him daily practicing scent recognition and effective patrol techniques. Kazan is a 17-month-old Belgian Malinois who is very rambunctious but is learning, the sergeant said.

The dogs all learn to track scents and practice bite work by attacking a well-padded sleeve or suit. The padded sleeve offers protection, but the strength of the bite is still apparent even through the sleeve, Officer Cullen said.

All dogs in the Section train to earn their initial certification – usually a six-week process. Each dog re-certifies annually. The dogs train daily with their handlers to recognize a variety of scents, practice bite work, learn to search buildings and locate articles of clothing. The handler must learn to consider a variety of factors when reading the dog’s response, everything from wind to ground dampness.

The handler also must learn the dog’s commands in the language in which he was trained. Some of the dogs respond to German, while others respond to Dutch and Czech.

The Bomb and Arson Section also has a new canine member. Derin, a female black Labrador Retriever, is an accelerant dog that was given to the department by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. She is a graduate of Puppies Behind Bars; a prison program where inmates raise and train the dogs to meet a variety of special needs. Derin’s handler, Detective Mike Luster, trains Derin for an hour twice a day honing her scent recognition skills. Derin is imprinted on 21 different accelerants, Luster says; everything from gasoline to paint thinner. Derin joins Brandy the other accelerant dog in the Bomb and Arson Section. The accelerant dogs also undergo yearly scent recognition recertification.

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