History of Police K-9
Basic K-9 Handler Development
• Historical overview of canines used in times of
war and conflict
• Canine use in U.S. Military
• Specialized Support Teams
• Guide Dogs for the Blind
• Canine use in other countries
• Canines have been utilized as working dogs since
• Used in times of war Before Christ
• Trained to attack enemy soldiers and protect their
• Used by Ancient Greeks to disclose where enemy
was by sending dog in and drawing fire to them
• Romans utilized dogs during battle- cut loose on
enemy during hand to hand combat
» “LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR
• Germany had 30,000 dogs ready to deploy
By 1930, the “Dog War School” at
Frankfurt Germany turned out 2,000 dogs
• “Guide Dogs For The Blind” instituted in
Germany during later part of WWI
• Before Pearl Harbor, Germany sold 10,000
dogs to the Japanese
• America develops “military K-9 corps” in
• In 1952, First United States Air Force
Sentry Dog School at Showa AS, Japan
• In 1953, Second USAF Sentry Dog School
in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Police Service Dogs
• In 1890’s, fist official use of canines for
police service took place in Ghent,
• K-9’s trained and used to assist in
enforcement of laws on American soil.
• Training and used different from
“centurion” dogs once used by military.
Police Service Dogs
• In 1907, New York Police Department began an
experimental police canine program with dogs
imported from Belgium. South Orange, New
Jersey, also started their K-9 program, followed by
Glen Ridge, New Jersey in 1910. Detroit,
Michigan (1917), Berkeley, California (1930),
Pennsylvania State Police (1931), and Connecticut
State Police (1944). All but the Canadian program
ended by the 1950’s.
• In 1909, French ring sport was developed in
Belgium, Brussels, and Holland, seeding
techniques for future police K-9 team
exercises throughout the continent.
“What we are dealing with in law enforcement is a
situation that does not even exist in a wartime
environment. We have placed people in urban
warfare-type situations for 20 years with no relief.
K-9 officers in particular are on the front lines.
Typically, a city officer will have three calls
waiting when he goes on shift, then dispatch keeps
updating the calls…there is court the next day. No
wonder some officers have to shut down in order
to survive…we have no idea [how these officers’
got there, or what kind of people they were when
they started. We have no idea if the people who
started resemble the people who are out there
» Bill Schroeder, canine trainer
• The reputation of police service dogs was
scarred because of their use in the civil
disputes of the 60’s.
• Dogs used in many of these riots were
shocking because they were used as a
“weapon”, not a “tool” of law enforcement.
• Dogs became one symbol of racist
• Units grew at a remarkable pace. Reached
an apex in 1962-1963.
• Thereafter, the start-up rate dramatically
decreased and the termination rate began to
• Realization that public opinion would not
allow dogs in crowd-control situations, due
to civil disorder from previous decade.
“Friendly”demonstrations at schools and
Also a time of specialization. Increasing
number of departments deploying specialty
dogs, detecting explosives, narcotics, and
“Bite and fight” dogs no longer useful.
Role of patrol dog began to expand, incorporating
search and rescue and the specialty roles.
In 1971, the United States Police Canine
Association became the largest and oldest active
organization of its kind; “Ever striving for the
betterment of all police K-9”. In august, 1971,
when two existing associations, Police Canine
Association and the United States K-9
1980’s – 1990’s
• 1980’s had seen more expansion of PSD
units across the country.
• Public opinion, court decisions, and training
changed police departments’ methods of
law enforcement. Education and
professionalism emphasized like never
1980’s - 1990’s
• 1992 Follow-up of INTERPOL survey
determines Great Britain, European
Continent countries, and Canada, provide a
minimum of 12-14 weeks basic training for
police dog teams.
1980’s – 1990’s
• Policies change, training imperative.
• Protection from litigation and civil suits,
PSD units now emphasize the use of
“reasonable force” in suspect apprehension.
Dog and handler must also perfect the
concept of “direct control”.
1980’s – 1990’s
• Fair Labor Standards Act issues affect
departments. Again, we see a decrease in
programs throughout the country.
1990’s - 2000
• By 2000, the order of magnitude of police service
dog programs in the United States had fluctuated
between 300 and over 700 agencies. Lawsuits
resulting from implementation of the FLSA as
applied to K-9 teams ended many U.S. Programs,
including some of the largest, such as the highly
productive K-9 unit of the Chicago Police
Department, and the most remote, such as the
Alaska Department of Corrections K-9 unit,
• In 1997, Police Dog Tactics
Training, deployment, and K-9 academy
instruction information for police and
rescue dog handlers and administrators,
including specialized POST courses.
Canine Specialized Support
• In 1974, first dog trained for forensic (cadaver)
search by a police department began work.
• In 1975, first California rescue dog unit, WOOF,
Inc. (Wilderness Finders, Inc.) Was dispatched by
El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, currently
by Marin County Sheriff’s Department, traveling
worldwide via U.S. Military, to assist search for
missing persons, disaster victims, and to perform
Trained to locate human scent. [Non-aggressive
• Human remains detection dog (HRD).
Trained to locate human decomposition. [Will not
alert on live human scent.] NOT cross-trained for
Institute for canine forensics.
Evidence detection / scent discrimination dogs.
• “Law Enforcement Canines”, designed to
accompany the Model Policy on Law Enforcement
Canines established by the IACP National Law
Enforcement Policy Center.
• Today, civilian law enforcement agencies and
military units throughout the world use police K-9
in widely ranging detection and apprehension
functions. The demand for dogs is high, and the
volume of case law affecting their deployment has
grown to maintain the highest possible level of
professionalism is clear, trained law enforcement
• Police Dog Tactics.
• Canine Specialized Support Team, Santa
Clara Coroner’s Office. (888) 413-2778
• Institute for Canine Forensics.
• National Association for Search and Rescue
• (NASAR) WWW.NASAR.ORG
• United States Police Canine Association.
Department of Defense Military Working Dog
Program, Lackland AFB, Texas.
(Government or military working dog handler
or supervisor access only. Training and dog
procurement programs information.)
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