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K-9 Program Frequently Asked Questions


How long should a K-9 Handler remain in that assignment?  I have heard some Officers say “… as long as s/he is functioning acceptably …” and other Officers have told me “… the working life of one Police Dog …”.  Please offer some insight on this question.

This is ultimately an administrative decision of the respective Agency.  Here are a few serious points to consider.

First, it is somewhat costly and time-consuming to get an Officer and K-9 trained to the point of certification.  If they are functioning as dual-purpose, it is even more so.  Then, it takes 2-3 years for that Officer and K-9 to become veterans.  By now, it could be as much as 4 years since they were paired together.  So, after 4 years, the Agency now has a very experienced and very efficient K-9 Team.  At this point, the Agency is likely to receive another 5-6 years service from the Team.  If the Handler continues with a second K-9, that dog will be trained even faster, certified even sooner, and become a veteran in perhaps half the time.  Thus, the Agency may receive as much as 6-8 years of experienced and efficient work product.  This is, of course, contingent upon the skillset, dedication, and work product of the Officer.

Second, if the Handler takes on a second K-9, s/he often acquires further skills beyond that of a first-time Handler and often evolves into what is described in the K-9 community as a “Super-Expert.”  At this point, the Handler also becomes even more efficient in deployments and less impeachable in court.  S/he often becomes a mentor to first-time Handlers and may qualify as a K-9 Instructor at some point.  If this career path is followed, the Agency often is the beneficiary of a top-tier technical K-9 resource.  Again, this result is obtained only upon the skillset, dedication, and work product of the Officer.

It is not unusual for larger Agencies to have K-9 Handlers who have cycled through multiple K-9’s.  Administrators who recognize this phenomenon tend to permit K-9 Handlers to perform as long as they are producing excellent work product.


What are the benefits of having a Patrol Dog for a County, Municipality or a Township?

Patrol Dogs are utilized as a searching/locating tool when deployed in a patrol related function.  Because of their incredible sense of smell, Patrol Dogs help in searching for discarded evidence, searching and clearing a building or open area and locating suspects who have recently fled from the scene of a crime.  Because of their heightened senses, it is safer, more cost effective, and less time consuming for the Patrol Dog Team to perform these kinds of searches.  It has been reported that Patrol Dogs can search/clear an open area or an average sized building up to four times faster than their human counter parts, saving on both time and manpower.

Locally, in a three year period (2011-2013), the West Valley City, UT Police Department K-9 Unit (6 Dog Teams) reported 455 total felony K-9 deployments with 133 suspects being located by their Patrol Dogs.  Patrol Dogs are an invaluable tool in locating suspects and evidence and thusly diminishing crime from our communities.


What are the benefits of having a Drug Dog for a County, Municipality or a Township?

There is a direct correlation between narcotic use and other reported crimes within a given community.  Robbery, theft, financial crimes, assault, domestic violence crimes and overdoses are all directly affected by the use of narcotics.  Reports suggest that approximately 70% of all property crimes are the result of drug abuse.  Solution – take drugs off the streets and reduce crime.  Enter – the Narcotic Detector Dog.

Just one example … between 2012 and 2016, the Warwick, RI Police Department K-9 Unit, consisting of 2 Dog Teams, was responsible for seizing 150lbs of marijuana, 33.5lbs of heroin, 91lbs of cocaine, 93.5 grams of meth and $928,088 in US Currency.

The Narcotic Detector Dog is an invaluable tool in taking illicit drugs off our streets, reducing crime, and protecting our communities from the adverse effects of drug abuse.  Any Police Department employing a Narcotic Detector Dog will undoubtedly see the positive effects they bring to their respective communities.


What are the benefits of having a Bomb Dog for a County, Municipality or a Township?

Although the benefits of an Explosive Detector Dog (EDD) are difficult to quantify based on traditional Police K-9 statistics, EDDs provide an immense amount of safety through their ability to sniff out explosives and explosive making material that could cause harm and danger to citizens and communities.  A Bomb Dog’s nose is still the most effective way to locate the odor of an explosive, even with all the new technology being developed in that arena.  A Bomb Dog Team brings safety to the department and the community by performing pre-sweeps for special events and dignitaries as well as working mass crowd events or soft targets such as transit systems.  The use of Bomb Dog Teams is also undergoing a transformation with teams being called upon to work crowds of people during an event rather than just the pre-event.  This allows the dog to be a highly visible presence and a psychological deterrent to anyone who may be planning an attack.

Due to the heightened senses of canines, a Bomb Dog Team can quickly and effectively perform a sweep of a given area much faster than a team of individuals searching the same area by hand.  This makes the Bomb Dog invaluable during bomb threats or pre-sweeps.  The ability to quickly perform sweeps saves man hours by freeing public safety personnel as soon as possible and reducing the number of personnel required for a scene.  The cost savings is also reflected by the ability to quickly return a business or establishment to normal operating levels and reduce the amount of time of service interruption.

Any jurisdiction that frequently hosts large amounts of people through sporting events, concerts, festivals, conferences, marathons or mass transit would greatly benefit from the services a Bomb Dog can provide.


How do I reserve a room in the dormitory while I am enrolled in the 8-week K-9 class?

Telephone 801-957-5444 and ask to be transferred to the person who reserves dorm rooms.  You will need to supply your own bedding, pillow, towel, and washcloth.


Does the K-9 Program at Utah POST teach “Find & Bark” or “Find & Bite” to the K-9’s?

The Utah POST K-9 Program teaches either or both protocols, according to the choice of the respective Agency/Handler.  There is a certification for “Find & Bark” protocol (aka Detaining) K-9’s and a separate certification for “Find & Bite” protocol (aka Handler-Control) K-9’s.  Refer to the Patrol Dog section of the Main Page of the POST K-9 Web page for further details.


What types of certifications are conducted and/or issued by the POST K-9 Program?

The K-9 Program at Peace Officer Standards and Training is an official entity of Utah State Government.  The certifications issued therefrom are official State Government documents.  K-9’s receive a certification as an “instrument” of law enforcement and Handlers receive a certification as a operator of that instrument.  The same is true of K-9 Instructors and Judges.


I have heard the K-9 manuals are quite large, several hundred pages even.  Is that true and does it cost extra for the manual(s)?

The K-9 manuals are quite large.  For example, the Patrol Dog manual is 825 pages, the Drug Dog manual is 675 pages, and the Bomb Dog manual is 650 pages.  These manuals are no longer printed for the students.  The classroom lectures are conducted using laptop computers and on-screen projectors.  The manuals are provided to the students in digital format.  Each student enrolling in a K-9 class at POST will need to bring a laptop computer.


Is there a dog kennel where I can house my K-9 while I am in class for eight weeks?

Yes.  A dog kennel with 10 individual runs is adjacent to the K-9 Building.  It has running water, cement runs, and an indoor sleeping chamber.  It has 3″ insulation in the floor, walls, and ceiling.  It is designed to keep the interior as cool as possible in the summer and warm as possible in the winter.  Pea gravel surrounds the kennel building.  Vehicles can drive right up to the walk-through gate.  All gates have combination locks and the facility is patrolled by security personnel after-hours.


How many hours of in-service training does POST recommend for K-9’s?

The official position of the Utah POST K-9 Program is: “The typical K-9 handled by the typical handler will need an average of four hours per week, per discipline, to maintain the skill level the K-9 acquired during the respective POST K-9 class.” This translates to four hours per week for Patrol Dogs, plus four hours per week for Narcotics Dogs (or Explosive Dogs, etc.). For example, a single-purpose Patrol Dog should average four hours weekly. A dual-purpose Patrol/Narcotics Dog should average eight hours weekly to maintain skill level. To increase the skill level, more hours are usually necessary. Utah POST K-9 Program’s official position is validated by the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Florida v. Harris (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-817_5if6.pdf). Further questions may be submitted to Sgt. Wendell Nope via phone 801-209-5790 or email wnope@utah.gov .


What kinds of statistics should I keep regarding my Drug Detector Dog?

The information below is presented as if the Handler was testifying,  being interviewed, or in a meeting.
 
    1. Number of training sessions each calendar year.  In court, the Prosecutor might ask a question like, “How many training sessions did you conduct with your dog in 2018?”
    2. Number of training sessions to-date (career total to-date).  In a meeting to prepare for a Suppression Hearing, court, you might be asked a question like, “How many training sessions would you say you have conducted with your dog throughout its entire career?
    3. Number of training hours each calendar year (count odor “baking” time as part of the training time).  In an Annual Performance Appraisal Interview, you might be asked a question like, “What were the total number of K-9 training hours you conducted in 2017?”
    4. Number of training hours to-date (career total to-date).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “Officer, how many total training hours has your K-9 had in its career so far?”
    5. Number of training exposures to each odor each calendar year.  In an audit, you might be asked a question like, “Show me the number of actual times your K-9 conducted a sniff on each of your target odors last year.”
    6. Number of training exposures to each odor to-date (career total to-date).  In a Professional Standards inquiry, you might be asked a question like, “I’d like to know how many times your K- has been exposed to cocaine during its career.”
    7. Number of training overall correct indications each calendar year.  In a Pre-Trial Hearing, you might be asked a question like, “How many times in 2018 did your K-9 indicate correctly during your training scenarios?”
    8. Number of training overall correct indications to-date (career total to-date).  In Re-Direct Examination, you might be asked a question like, “Over the course of your K-9’s career, how many times has it properly indicated in training?”
    9. Number of training correct indications for each target odor each calendar year.  In your Annual Performance Review, your supervisor might ask a question like, “In order to establish a baseline number for your K-9’s ability to find Heroin, how many times did your K-9 indicate correctly on Heroin its first calendar year?”
    10. Number of training correct indications for each target odor to-date (career total to-date).  In a national seminar, you might be asked a question like, “Your K-9 is showing an excellent “Sit” indication on the three scenarios you just worked, how many times would you say your K-9 has indicated in its career … the grand total number?”
    11. Number of training overall misses of hidden target odors each calendar year (a miss means that the K-9 just didn’t find the target odor).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many times in the past year has your K-9 simply failed to find a hidden target odor?”
    12. Number of training overall misses of each hidden target odor each calendar year.    In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many times in the past year has your K-9 simply failed to find [a specific drug] during training?  How about [another specific drug] during training?”
    13. Number of training overall misses of each hidden target odor to-date (career total to-date).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many times in your K-9’s overall career has it failed to find [s specific drug] during training?”
    14. Number of training overall false indications each calendar year.  In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many times in the past year has your K-9 exhibited a ‘False Indication’ during training?”
    15. Number of training false indications for each odor each calendar year.  In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many times in the past year has your K-9 exhibited a ‘False Indication’ on [a specific drug] during training?”
    16. Number of training false indications for each odor to-date (career total to-date).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many times in your K-9’s career has it exhibited a ‘False Indication’ on [a specific drug] during training?”
    17. Number of training overall false indications to-date (career total to-date).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many total ‘False Indications’ has your K-9 exhibited over the course of its entire career?”
    18. Number of deployment sniffs each calendar year.  In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many deployment sniffs has your K-9 performed in this calendar year?”
    19. Number of deployment sniffs to-date (career total to-date).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “How many deployment sniffs has your K-9 performed over the course of its entire career?”
    20. Number of deployment sniffs each calendar year that resulted in no indication.  In court, you might be asked a question like, “In this calendar year, how many deployment sniffs resulted in no Indication from your K-9?  How many last calendar year?”
    21. Number of deployment sniffs to-date that resulted in no indication (career total to-date).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “Over the course of your K-9’s career, how many deployment sniffs have resulted in no indication?”
    22. Number of deployment finds each calendar year (define a deployment find as an indication that produced a measurable quantity of target odor OR an indication that no measurable quantity was found but the indication was deemed valid by a person’s verbal admission, etc.).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “In this calendar year, how many deployment sniffs resulted in a positive find or some form of validation that the K-9 Indication was correct?”
    23. Number of deployment finds to-date (career total to-date) (define a deployment find as an indication that produced a measurable quantity of target odor OR an indication that no measurable quantity was found but the indication was deemed valid by a person’s verbal admission, etc.).  In court, you might be asked a question like, “Over the course of the K-9’s career, how many deployment sniffs resulted in a positive find or some form of validation that the K-9 Indication was correct?”

Does the Utah POST K-9 Program use Pseudo-Drugs in its training courses?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

The Utah POST K-9 Program utilizes only actual drugs in its K-9 training program.  This is an strictly an administrative choice that is intended to diminish legal challenges for graduates of the K-9 Program.  This should not be interpreted as a criticism of any pseudo product that claims to be viable for Drug Dog training.