K-9 officers are an extremely important cogs in the Mesa Police Department machine. Officer Brian Cochran took time out of his busy day with his soon to be certified dog Elvis, who is only 15 months old.
The Police Department uses German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Labrador Retrievers, and Dutch Shepherds. While German Shepherds are most associated with police dogs, they have been bred so much that they can no longer fully aide the department. Most of the K-9s are imported from all over the world.
Elvis is a Dutch Shepherd, purchased by the police department for $12,000.
The dogs are used for patrol work, narcotics searches, and sweeps for explosives. 90% of the time, the dogs are used for building and area searches.
A lot of people are naturally afraid of dogs, we use them sometimes to deter people from doing something stupid,” Officer Cochran said.
The dogs are able to search larger areas more quickly and far more accurately than human officers possibly could. That’s why they use them. They are extremely good at their jobs.
In the narcotics division, the dogs are trained to find four different types where as in the explosive division, there are 50 types.
I could train this dog to find a milk carton if I had to,” Officer Cochran said.
When selecting dogs, the Officers look at their Prey Drive, Play Drive and Defense Drive. The Prey drive is used for hunting, Play for detection, and defense for protection.
After diligently serving for about a decade, the dogs retire.
The dogs have a really demanding job, spending ten years running through buildings and chasing criminals takes a toll on them,” Officer Cochran said.
The criminology class greatly appreciates the time the officers take out of their day to come talk to them.
It’s really great that the officers come in to talk to the kids because it enforces the lessons they’re learning from their textbooks and presentations,” criminology teacher Mr. Jones said.