CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Members of the Clarksville Police Department’s K-9 Unit spent part of Tuesday afternoon training two new K-9 Handlers and Police Service Dogs. The two dogs and handlers were at Maxxx’d Out Towing, 2631 Fort Campbell Boulevard in Clarksville along with the other four veteran K-9 dogs and handlers of the unit for training.
(CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE TRAINING)
(CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS FROM THE TRAINING)
The two new dogs are both a mixed breed of German shepherd and Malinois. Sergeant David O’Dell with the K-9 Unit of the Police Department said the reason for the mix of the two breeds is the Malinois has a very high drive and the German shepherd has more social skills. Mixing the two provides a sociability and high drive that makes a better police dog.
The dog’s names are Koda and Leo and they just completed six weeks of training with their handlers at Southern Police K-9 in North Carolina and Tuesday was their first training session with the K-9 Unit in Clarksville. Koda is just over two years old and Leo is close to 19 months old. Sergeant O’Dell said the average working career for a service dog is 8-10 years.
Most service dogs are given commands in a foreign language with both Koda and Leo taking commands from their partner officers in Dutch. The reason for that is so that if the dogs are working on the streets with their officer, a member of the public, especially a suspect can’t give commands the dogs.
There are a total of six dogs that are part of the Clarksville Police Department K-9 Unit. Five of them are known as active indicator dogs which means they scratch when they smell the odor of drugs they are trained to find and one dog is a passive indicator dog which sits when the odor of drugs are found.
O’Dell talked about the importance of the training the dogs receive. “There’s a lot of court cases that have been coming out over the last couple of years that have said the reliability of the dog is based on its training. So we try to get as much training as we can in so that when theses dogs come upon any situation on the street they’re able to react to it,” said O’Dell.
O’Dell said about eighty percent of what the dogs are trained for is narcotics. In a recent case involving a shooting incident on North 2nd Street in Clarksville one of the K-9 Unit’s dogs was able to find a gun that one of the suspects had thrown away after the shooting. In another case another dog found a victim’s wallet and cell phone after a home invasion.
One interesting aspect of what the dogs do when they are looking for drugs is that it is actually considered play. O’Dell explained that training for the dogs on narcotics is done with canvas scent bags. The bags are put in with the drugs and they soak up the drug odor so when the dogs are chewing on the bags the scent of whatever drug it happens to be is getting into the dogs nose.
That bag is basically their toy and O’Dell said that when officers take the dog to sniff out drugs in a vehicle or other location, the dog thinks he is looking for his toy, not marijuana, cocaine or other type of narcotic.
When the dog comes across the odor of the drugs they are thinking that their toy is in a vehicle or other place and they indicate to their handlers that they have found their toy and they want to get it and play with it. It’s more of a game for the dogs and O’Dell added that if it’s not a game for the dog they will lose interest and aren’t going to do well.
Once they have found the narcotics they are rewarded with the drug scented canvas bag but officers have to be careful to try and not let the dog see them throw the bag near the area where the drugs are found. This is to help keep the dog in the hunt for the scent of the drugs and not realizing that the canvas bag or his toy is coming from his handler.
Officer Kenrick Harris with the Clarksville Police Department is one of the members of the K-9 Unit who took his dog Koda through the training Tuesday to find the hidden cocaine and marijuana in the vehicles. Harris and Koda who just returned from their training in North Carolina are scheduled to take to the streets of Clarksville this week.
Talking about his relationship between him and his K-9 partner Harris said he is already attached to Koda and he hopes he is able to stay with the K-9 Unit until Koda retires. Harris added it will take some time for the two to bond and learn about each other but he expects Koda to do a great job as a service dog with the Clarksville Police Department.
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