K-9’s (police service dogs) are a tremendous asset for law enforcement. Since the introduction of service dogs into Bannock County in 1989, these dogs have repeatedly shown their use as a locating tool. As a result of the K9’s, thousands of dollars in illegal drugs and drug money have been taken off the streets in Bannock County. In addition to their sense of smell (olfactory locating capability), service dogs have also shown their use:
- As a psychological effect on criminals;
- In protecting the handler and other officers;
- As a favorable effect on police public demonstrations;
- In improving officer morale;
- As the only law enforcement tool that can be recalled after deployment;
- As the only law enforcement tool which, if taken away from you by a suspect, cannot be used against you;
- As a time management tool, the dog’s olfactory capability is comparable to ten human searchers;
- As a budgetary savings tool, police service dogs cost about 80 cents per hour to operate.
- K9’s are a highly cost effective means for crime control.
Police dogs and handlers undergo extensive training. All Bannock County K9 teams are certified through the State of Idaho. K9 teams attend a basic 8-week course to achieve initial certification. The spoken commands are generally given in Dutch, German or Czechoslovakian.
A canine’s primary purpose is that of a locating tool. Upon the location of the suspect, a use of force by either the handler or the dog may or may not be necessary. The suspect controls this decision. The handler and the dog merely react and respond to what the suspect dictates.
Bannock County currently employs the use of three K9 teams. Each team is trained to: apprehend dangerous criminals, search for evidence, detect the odor of illegal drugs and locate individuals by tracking.
Photo: Clint Brown and Rex from the Bannock County K9 unit