The Lowell Police K-9 Unit
The K-9 unit is a group of dedicated professionals comprised of three officers with their K-9 companions assigned to each officer. Currently, Sergeant Steven Gendreau and his Bloodhound named Hope, Officer Brian Kinney and his German Shepard named Bruno and Officer Todd Donaldson and his German Shepard named Falco make up the 3 officer and 3 K-9 team for the Lowell Police Department. Past members of the LPD K-9 Team have included, now retired, Sgt Norman Levasseur and his Belgian Malinois K-9’s Frisco and Roza, as well as Officer David Seamans and his German Shepard, Randy.
The Officers and canines of the Lowell Police K-9 Unit are well trained in several areas of Law Enforcement expertise which include:
- Tracking of, searching for and apprehension of crime suspects immediately after a crime such as a robbery or assault has occurred.
- Searching for missing persons such as children who may have wandered away from the home without their parents or guardians knowledge.
- Searching for missing persons suffering from incapacitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s who may have wandered from the safety of their homes and their guardians.
- Assisting other officers in the detection of various types of illegal drugs or contraband in vehicles, luggage, or packages as well as on their person during various police activities.
- Assisting other officers in crowd control of persons involved in public disturbances.
- Responding to assist Police Departments from other communities in need of a K-9 at recent crime related incidents in their communities.
- Assisting the LPD Safety Officer by conducting demonstrations of the K-9 Unit ’s abilities, functions and equipment in front of smaller or larger groups of people, including younger children at Safety Events, Bicycle Safety Rodeos, Senior Center Events and both city and private events during all times of the year.
- Protecting the K-9 Officer from being assaulted in volatile situations where the K-9 officer may find himself alone with one or more suspects and without back up.
Popular Breeds And Their Functions
Many different breeds of K-9’s are used in Law Enforcement activities to fully utilize their natural instincts and abilities. In addition, advanced K-9 Training in specific fields allows Law Enforcement to better serve and protect the public! The popular breeds and their functions are listed below.
- Argentine Dogo (protect the officer, attack dog, sniff out bombs, sniff out drugs, sniff out food)
- Beagle (sniff out bombs, drugs and food)
- Belgian Malinois (protect the officer, attack dog, locating IEDs, locating evidence, locating drugs, prisoner transport, human tracking)
- Bernese Mountain Dog (finds missing people)
- Bloodhound (odor-specific ID, trackings, sniff out bombs, sniff out drugs, locating evidence)
- Boxer (protect the officer, attack dog)
- Doberman Pinscher (protect officer, attack dog)
- Dutch Shepherd (protect the officer, attack dog)
- German Shepherd (protect the officer, attack dog, ground based tracking and air based tracking, locating human remains, locating drugs, locating IEDs, locating evidence)
- Giant Schnauzer (protect officer, attack dog)
- Labrador Retriever (sniff out bombs and drugs)
- Rottweiler (protect the officer, attack dog)
- Springer Spaniel (sniff out bombs, sniff out drugs)
Specific K-9 Functions and Situations
Although, many of the listed K-9’s are able to perform more than one task, there is no one particular type of K-9 that could possibly master all the individual functions that Police K-9’s are used for in Law Enforcement! Therefore, different
breeds of K-9’s may be used for various functions and may be trained for different situations in the Law Enforcement field. Some of these are:
- Search and rescue dogs (SAR) are used to locate suspects or find missing people or objects. Bloodhounds are often used for this task due to their sense of smell and instinct.
- Detection dogs or explosive-sniffing dogs are used to detect illicit substances such as drugs or explosives which may be carried on a person in their effects. In many countries, Beagles are used in airports to sniff luggage for items that are not permitted; due to their friendly nature and appearance, the Beagle does not worry most airplane passengers.
- Arson dogs are trained to pick-up on traces of accelerants at sites of suspected arson.
- Cadaver dogs are trained in detecting the odor of decomposing bodies. Dogs' noses are so sensitive that they are even capable of detecting bodies that are under running water.
3 Types of K-9 Training
Police K-9’s may also have been trained to perform specific tasks when completing their original assignment from their K-9 handler.
- Some K-9’s are trained for “Find and Sit” situations where the K-9’s may locate hidden contraband and sit to indicate the location.
- Some K-9’s are trained for “Find and Bark” situations where the K-9’s locate persons or contraband and bark to indicate their find.
- Some K-9’s are trained for “Find and Bite” situations where the K-9’s are used to apprehend crime suspects after a crime.
The traditional police patrol dog was a "find and bite" dog which found suspects by tracking or searching and would bite and hold them until the suspect could be placed under arrest. These K-9’s once formed the bulk of patrol dogs. But, today, many K-9’s have expanded talents which include the location of evidence items as well as suspects. Many K-9’s are cross trained to be detector dogs which locate drugs or other contraband. Cross training is an excellent use of resources for local, state and federal agencies. The "find and bark" method is a training option which is sometimes called "minimal force" training because the dog finds and guards a passive suspect by standing off and barking, biting only when the person tries to flee or attack. Although the courts have recognized that properly trained patrol dogs are a “non-deadly force”, the temperament, training, proper care and handling of the dog by the K-9 officer affects how much "force" is applied in actual situations. Some
Police Departments may also use K-9’s trained for “handler protection only” which would always find victims or suspects in a friendly manner. Most departments realize that these types of searches expose the dog and handler to greater risk and, instead, they choose to utilize dogs which are apprehension trained either in a “find and bite” or a “find and bark” manner.
Police K-9’s are an invaluable resource for Local, County, State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies in preventing injuries to officers when apprehending an armed and dangerous suspect! In addition, the multiple functions of Police K-9’s allow Law Enforcement Officers to serve and protect the public in all aspects of Crime Prevention, Criminal Investigation, Community Services and Homeland Security!
For more information on Police K-9’s, here are some web sites that will provide interesting information and videos of Police K-9’s.