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K-9, an Officer's Best Friend

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 46 Issue: 11 Dated: November 1998 Pages: 85-87
H Rubin
Date Published
3 pages
The California Highway Patrol acquired its first dog for drug law enforcement 12 years ago and now has 36 canine teams that are widely recognized as some of the most productive drug interdiction units in the country.
The canines are certified in both narcotics detection and in protecting the officers who handle them if the need arises during an enforcement contact. They are also capable of apprehending a fleeing criminal and locating suspects believed to be violent, dangerous, or armed. Their drug searches can involve conveyances, buildings, or open areas. Most dogs are obtained already trained from European vendors and are selected for their temperament, alertness, courage, aggression, and physical fitness. Handlers issue the commands in the language of the country where the dog was first trained. The dogs are 18 months to 4 years old when acquired and have an average working lifetime of 10 years. The dogs undergo daily training sessions and an 8-hour training day per month. Handlers are carefully selected for their personal, physical, and emotional qualities. They receive 9 weeks of training. Handlers and their dogs are often together 7 days a week. The teams are available for use by allied police agencies. Statistics for 1997 reveal that the program is succeeding in capturing drugs in large amounts that far exceed the program costs. Table and photograph