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K-9 Unit OFC. JAKE JENSEN AND DUKE OFC. DAN LESSER AND RAV OFC. PAUL GORMAN AND MAX


K-9 unit that trains; an assortment of law enforcement K-9 units, including units from Kootenai County Sheriff, Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police, and law enforcement groups from Montana, gather to train their dogs. “It’s easier to train with more dogs,” says Hamilton. “It’s a chance to train weekly and keep the dogs up on their skills. Maybe they had an issue the week before, something they need to work on. We work through various skills to help the dog.” The dogs are trained to bite and hold, whether they are in training or on the streets with a criminal. Although the bites are definite bites and not nibbles, “biting is pretty minimal, maybe ten percent of the time,” says Hamilton. “Most of the time, no one gets injured with the dogs.” That’s because the dogs don’t relish biting people; rather, they do it as part of a training method. “To them, it’s all play, it is not done out of aggression or defense.” Similar to how most dogs are trained to run after and retrieve a tennis ball or Frisbee, so too are these dogs trained; however, rather than simply fetching, they are trained to go after an individual, bite and hold. “It’s the same drive, you just channel it in a different direction,” says Hamilton. Before the dogs can bite a criminal, they must track one down.


A K-9 unit dog’s primary purpose is their sense of smell and tracking abilities. Many of the K-9 trained dogs have a sense of smell that is one million times stronger than a human’s sense of smell. This means they are particularly well suited for tracking criminals after they have committed a crime. “Tracking is probably one of the most dangerous things we do as


police officers,” says Hamilton. “Thankfully though, those guys are trying to get away, rather than kill us.” One reason tracking is so dangerous is because officers never know what they are up against. Is the individual running, or are they hiding in wait? Is the officer risking running into a more dangerous situation in an attempt to catch the perpetrator? Successful tracking is rewarding for both the officers and the


dogs. “You can find people with the dogs in a way foot patrols couldn’t,” says Spokane Police Department Officer Jake Jensen, who has worked for three and a half years with Duke, a seven year old German Shepard. He understands the importance of having Duke by his side. “There was a home invasion that was in progress. The guy didn’t take the advice of giving himself up, and he ran with a gun. That’s when I had to stop and think ‘is it safer to go after him with three cops or with my 35-mile per hour tracker?’ These dogs are huge assets for safety.


OFC. DAN WATERS AND JJ


www.spokanecda.com 157


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