K9 or K-9 is an abbreviation and homophone of Canine. It may refer to a variety of entries, most related to dogs. The term originated in the military. The term, originally referencing war dogs, has since carried over to police, sentry and assistance dogs.When Tigard Police Officers are called out to investigate a security alarm activation, they don’t know whether it’s a false alarm or a burglar in the building. Entering the premises with this level of uncertainty can be dangerous. If the suspect has already fled, it may be difficult to locate the person. This is one scenario where K-9s, Rico and Diesel are invaluable. Both dogs’ workloads range from tracking suspects or missing persons to participation in community events.
These German Shepherds are taught to sniff out suspects and find their trail if they’ve left the scene. On the alarm call mentioned, either dog may be commanded to enter the building and indicate by laying down and barking that a human is present. They have been trained to keep the suspect in their sights unless their officer/partner calls them back; which may be necessary if they know the offender is dangerous. If the suspect were to physically assault an officer, a K-9 is trained to intervene. Often the dog’s bark is enough for a suspect to back down and comply.
K-9s have a keen sense of smell and can pick up human scent as long as they are taken to a place where the suspect or missing person has recently been located. While working, K-9s are focused, athletic animals who will jump over fences and do what it takes to remain with a scent.
Diesel and handler Officer Powers have been working together for over two years. To date, the pair has recorded over 50 captures and assists. The team has also located numerous missing or endangered persons. Rico and his handler Officer Rivera are Tigard’s newest K-9 team. The pair recently completed their initial certification that entailed 400 training hours, spanning 10 weeks. The curriculum includes everything from grooming, area searches, and locating suspects to discriminating between the odors being tracked from other competing smells. The training program is based on positive reinforcement. When the K-9s complete a task, the officers reinforce their accomplishment with enthusiasm and play. Rico is motivated by his favorite toy, a jute rope that Officer Rivera uses to play tug of war. Also fond of his favorite toy, Diesel’s reward may an impromptu game of fetch with his handler, Officer Powers.
Bringing a K-9 officer to a school or to a community event can break the ice. It is much easier to start conversations with kids and community members in effort to find common ground when a dog is nearby. Officers are happy to show-off their partners. However, when Rico and Diesel are dressed in their uniforms and three collars – they are ready to work. Both are focused and on-edge readying for their next task. It is appreciated when community members ask if they can approach a K-9 officer. If the uniform is off, they are off-duty and ready to lick anyone who comes to greet them.
Having a K-9 program allows helps police locate suspects and missing persons as it can also protect officers. They also help the police forge strong connections to the community.