It’s much more than just a dog obedience school. Specially-trained police dogs and their officer-handlers will be in central Iowa this week for a three-day certification event. West Des Moines Police Officer Brent Kock says his department is hosting the event which features about 50 of the K-9 teams from law enforcement outfits all over Iowa and Minnesota.
It’s an annual certification that K-9 teams have to go through and complete a series of events. Officer Kock says most police departments won’t let the teams work the streets without finishing this course. The United States Police Canine Association is running the police dog certifications today through Wednesday.
Kock says some of the training events are intense. The teams will be tested in two phases, with and without gunfire. Kock says, “The dog has to be able to apprehend the suspect and then the handler go down and verbally call the dog off the bite, the dog will come back, sit next to the handler, the handler will go up and conduct a pat-down search of the suspect and the dog is supposed to stay and not move.”
He says the various tests of the dogs’ agility and obedience are designed to be realistic gauges of their abilities. The dogs have hurdles they have to jump, ladders they have to climb and tunnels they have to crawl through and under. He says it’s all designed to teach the dog they can actually jump over fences while pursuing a suspect in a back yard, for example, as the officer can’t take time to carry the dog or lift it over an obstacle during a chase.
The public is welcome to watch the free events at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.