(March 17, 2017) - Another Friday, and we're into double digits with "Ask CCPD" number 10! We posted some videos this past week of a few of our K-9s using the new obstacle course equipment. This prompted Lynda to ask on Facebook:
"How much time per day do they train? And does Suka (K-9 Ofc. Matyas' partner) have a bulletproof vest for when on duty?"
That's an excellent question, and an excellent topic since EVERYONE loves the dogs! The unit as a whole (seven handlers with their K-9 partners and a sergeant) meets every Tuesday for 10 hours of "maintenance" training under the supervision of the Lead K-9 Trainer (which is one of the handlers). The K-9s are put through the paces of the obstacle course, and if you've seen the videos they are amazing, agile animals. The new obstacle equipment was donated by the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, and at the presentation the point was made that police dogs are essentially the "pro athletes" of the canine world. Watch them in action and this is very evident.
Other than sailing over 5 foot fences, torpedoing under super low obstacles and launching through car windows (yeah bad guys....seriously, DON'T run), the dogs also do extensive training in drug searches and article searches. Drug searches are pretty self-explanatory; don't bring your drugs out and about into our city or our dogs WILL sniff you out. Or just don't do drugs, that works too. An article search is for an item, such as a gun thrown into the bushes by a fleeing criminal, or the criminal themselves. The dogs can sniff out bad guys and track them a very long way.
They do lots of "bite work" as seen in the banner photo above, meant to down/detain a criminal until the cuffs can go on. Actual bites of bad guys are very, very rare, as most are smart enough to give up when they know the K-9 is coming for them. The dogs can start and stop a bite instantly on command, just as they do with all their other commands. We do not have cadaver dogs (bodies) or bomb-sniffing dogs, as those are different training tracks. We can cooperate with other local agencies if we do need those separate skills.
Tuesdays are not the only time these dogs train, however. Throughout their duty shifts K-9 handlers will exercise the dog and perform short training exercises on their own, and of course when a call for a K-9 unit comes out, it's game time, and these furry officers execute everything they've been trained to do. The handlers also play, exercise and train the dogs on their days off, as each dog goes home with the handler every day. The dogs are sweet, friendly, delightful animals....most of the time. If you're a fleeing/fighting bad guy, or threaten the handlers, it's going to be a different story.
All of this training takes an enormous amount of paperwork and documentation. Every training scenario and on-duty utilization of the dogs gets documented. These dogs hold certifications and require a certain amount of training hours just like the human officers do. K-9 handlers have an enormous amount of responsibility and hard work, but every handler I've ever met has an amazing passion for their K-9 partners and the unique, incredible police work they do together.
As to the second part of the question, Suka does have a bullet-resistant vest to use. All seven of our dogs now have a vest, mostly due to generous donations from members of the community. They don't wear the vests all the time as they can get very hot and heavy, but the vests are always on hand for a high-risk call for service or a SWAT callout.
We hope you enjoyed hearing about our K-9 Unit and the fine training and work that they do. We will have a lot more in store for everyone regarding the K-9 Unit very soon as well, so keep an eye out! If you have a question you'd like to ask for this column, visit the "Ask CCPD" page on our website and submit your question, or message us on one of our many social media platforms. We will see you again next week!
About the Author:
Corporal Philip Mullen is a nine year law enforcement veteran assigned to the Office of the Chief of Police and serves as Assistant Public Affairs Officer for the Cape Coral Police Department.
For the last 9 years, Corporal Mullen served as a Patrol Officer in our Patrol Bureau, and as a Field Training Officer, preparing new recruits for the rigors of police work over the past 5 years. Corporal Mullen is a member of the Cape Coral Police Department Honor Guard and has represented the Cape Coral Police Department across the United States. He is a recipient of two Lifesaving Awards and the department's highest honor, the Medal of Honor. Phil holds a Bachelor's Degree in Public Safety Administration from Edison State College.
CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341