Updated October 30, 2008
SBPD's K9 unit is assigned to the uniform patrol division. It is comprised of seven teams. Each team consists of an officer and his/her loyal canine companion. The Canine Unit has become a great asset to the officers of the South Bend Police Department and the citizens of South Bend.
it's simple beginnings in the early 1960's the unit has grown to nine teams of handlers and K9 officers. K9 Officers/Handlers work a staggered shift from the standard patrol shiftds, which allow better coverage and utilization capability during peak hours for police work.
Canines and their human partners who pass the initial selection process undergo a full ten week training course before assignment to the unit. The starting age of the average police service dog is 15 months. The average career for our dogs is six years. Upon ending his career, the canine is allowed to live in "retirement" with his handler.
The Police Service Dogs are used in a variety of situations.
To search for hidden suspects
To apprehend fleeing suspects
To search for lost persons
To search for evidence
To protect the handler, other officers and citizens
To clear vehicles after a high risk felony stop
To conduct public demonstrations (limited basis)
To search for and detect the odor of narcotics
To be a visual deterrent for crime
Some of the dogs are trained in narcotics and explosives detection, as well as Tina, who is Cpl Early's partner. Tina is specialized in drugs and narcotics detection exclusively.
At this time, our unit does not offer demonstrations or events to the general public or for special engagements. We appreciate your understanding. Below you will find photos of the dogs and their handlers.
Frequently, people outside of law enforcement misunderstand how the dogs are actually used and deployed. This misunderstanding is reinforced by the media, movies, and fictional references, which mistakenly show the dog's aggression more than they depict how a modern Police K9 is truly used.
The Police Service Dog is often ill perceived as a vicious, snarling animal. Police Service Dogs are occasionally needed to apprehend criminals by biting, but it's true designed use is to locate suspects who are hiding. Biting is only a very small facet of what the dog can be used for in Police work. The vast majority of K9 deployments results in no one being bitten. As a "force" tool, the Police Service Dog is very unique in that the dog can be re-called and stopped unlike a swing of a baton, a spray of chemical agents or a bullet when fired by a gun which cannot be stopped while in motion.
DO'S AND DON'TS...
What should and shouldn't you do if you encounter a police dog while on duty?
The most important thing is to allow the handler and dog to do their job; staying out of the way is probably the most helpful thing a citizen can do. Often you may see a handler and his canine tracking a suspect, perhaps even through your own yard. Everyone is curious, but by walking around to get a better look at what's going on just makes the K-9 teams work that much more difficult.
Citizens are justifiably concerned about what is happening when they see police officers in their neighborhood, but trying to stop the handler and his dog to ask questions while they are working is not the best time to do so. If you have important information to pass on, direct it to support officers that are with the K-9 handler.
Do not approach a police K-9 vehicle that is unattended! Trying to get a peek at the police service dog could cause aggressive behavior and could be a danger to you; it is not only unsafe to tease a police dog, IT IS AGAINST THE LAW.
If you should ever find yourself in the RARE situation of having a suspect run by you that is being chased by a police dog, the best thing to do is just stand still; by standing still the dog will not pay as much attention to you.
One last don't... don't try to pet a police dog without permission of the handler. Police dogs are not just another family pet; they are trained law enforcement tools and must be treated with regard for the work they must perform.
DO talk with the handler and ask as many questions as you want when you see him taking a break. Canine handlers love to talk about their dog, and are always interested in the concerns of the community.
NEW- We have also added additional K9 FAQs to our page- more info is found here!
|Meet the K9s and K9 Handlers Class of 2008-09!|