Police dogs are some of the hardest-working members of law enforcement. They keep millions of dollars’ worth of drugs off the streets each year, can be trained to search out hidden suspects, and act as a visual deterrent for violent crime. Starting a K9 unit can be a boon for your agency.
Here are a few general steps to take when starting up a K9 unit in your department.
Step One: Funding
The biggest hurdle in forming a K9 contingency, especially for small departments, is budget. Fortunately, there are a handful of state and federal grant programs designed to help enforcement agencies procure and train police dogs.
Some communities have had great success fundraising locally to cover the cost of a canine program. Since dogs are so well-loved, they often serve dual functions as both protectors and mascots; people are even more excited about helping support a K9 when they understand the need and the statistics. Consider hosting fundraising events to meet your monetary goals.
Step Two: Liability
As in any law enforcement practice, K9s can present new liability issues. It’s important to spend a great deal of time discussing liability with a representative attorney before ever procuring a dog. It’s also imperative that your department create formal documentation around the training, handling, and protection of a K9 unit so every officer is clear on what's involved.
Step Three: Dog & Training
Once the legwork is finished, it’s time to procure a dog. There are thousands of reputable dog breeders across the world specializing in tactically-trained breeds like German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Many departments have also had great success training shelter dogs (usually Shepherd breeds) internally. Professional, consistent training should be a hallmark of any K9 implementation plan and usually takes several months to complete.
Every officer should commit to formal training with the animal. Remember that training isn’t a one-time operation and should be repeated annually or as necessary. Ongoing training helps a dog’s skills stay fine-tuned and helps your department adapt to any changes.
Step Four: Fieldwork
When a trained police dog is ready for fieldwork, it’s time to consider gear. Most police departments purchase quality canine vests for enforcement dogs. These help protect dogs against the same threats human officers face: bullets, knives, and shrapnel.
Additional K9 gear to consider might include tactical collars, leashes, special harnesses, and more. The gear your K9 will need greatly depends on how he’ll be used in the field. Be sure each item fits properly before relying on it in a combat situation.
At Vel Tye, we help law enforcement teams outfit their personnel to perform better in the field. We’re often asked about solutions for canine counterparts; our canine protection vests are some of our most popular police gear. Our brand is USA-based and veteran backed…we know tactical utility.
Browse our online store for a wide selection of gear, protection vests, and more.