Canine Officer (K-9 Officer)
If you love dogs and law enforcement, a career as a canine officer working on a K-9 Unit may be a good fit for you. Open positions on the K-9 unit are very competitive and prior experience working with animals as a decoy volunteer or certifications from a local canine police association can help a candidate in the selection process.
>Read about a Canine Officer Career
Use of Canines in Law Enforcement
Police dogs have been used by police departments in the United States for almost a hundred years. In Europe, police departments have used dogs for law enforcement as far back as 1770. With a sense of smell 1000 times better than a human, dogs provide an excellent partner to police officers. Their enhanced abilities are extremely useful in finding narcotics, tracking suspects, or finding missing persons. Suspects often surrender quickly once they see a police dog for fear of being bitten, which makes apprehending individuals easier for police officers and reduces the risk of the officer being injured.
Canine Officer Training
Canine officers should be prepared for extensive and continuous training so that the officer and police dog can work together and communicate seamlessly. For police dogs, the training starts when they are puppies and only those with the right temperament continue through the training process. Police dog trainees attend the shooting range with their handler to get used to the noise of gunfire. Police dogs must be able to stay calm in situations where shots are fired in order to complete their training.
Types of Police Dogs
German Shepherds is the breed used by most police departments. Other popular breeds include Doberman pinschers, Belgian Malinois, rottweilers, bloodhounds, and Labrador retrievers. Each breed has strengths that relate to police work. For example Labrador retrievers are good at detecting drugs and weapons with their advanced sense of smell. German Shepherds are very intelligent and loyal to their canine handler. Bloodhound’s excellent sense of smell is helpful for tracking suspects or finding missing persons.