K9 is the homophone for "canine" officers. Deterring crime by their presence alone, use of trained dogs as canine officers is expected to rise.
Dogs have helped man for as long as he can remember. Some of the first trained police dogs were in Ghent, Belgium. They fell into favor in the United States in New York City during the early 1900s. Over the last several decades, use of police dogs has changed. No longer does the public view them as creatures foaming at the mouth, but as a vital part of the community. Much of this is due to positive public relations where dogs demonstrate their good behavior and training at local events. Studies have shown that the visible presence of a canine officer with his handler deters crime up to 75 percent. (U.S. Police Canine Association)
Most of this is psychological. Officer David Duran of the Stuart Police in Martin County, Florida has stated that when entering a crowd with his partner, Canine Officer Cody, people will disperse and quiet down.
Master Officer of Special Operations David Duran has been a part of the Stuart Police Department for ten years, seven of those as a K9 officer. A quiet man, he is known around his patrol area by local citizens. Besides his talent as a dog handler, Officer Duran also is bilingual — a plus in Florida’s rapidly changing society. He speaks two dialects of Spanish — Caribbean and Central American.
According to Officer Duran, Florida has one of the highest levels of canine officer use in the United States. The dogs are utilized in airports, seaports, prisons, police departments, courthouses, by county sheriffs, and border control. They sniff out bombs, drugs (crack, cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, ecstasy), currency, objects (evidence), accelerants (suspected arson), and people (fleeing suspects, missing children, escaped prisoners, cadavers — even underwater). (Forensic Science)
Canine officers are of such high value that often they are imported from Europe with lineage papers and a passport. Canine Officer Cody came to the Stuart Police Department from the Slovak Republic at about a year old through Metro Dade Canine Services in Miami. Like most other police dogs, Cody is a German Shepherd. Using positive reinforcement, he spent 400 hours in training prior to assuming active duty. The command language he responds to is German.
A dog’s best trait is his olfactory memory. What he smells, he remembers. His nose operates differently than a human’s — he has 300 million olfactory receptors in his nose, whereas a human has six million. Dogs also have a second olfactory system called the vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ at the base of his nasal passage. The part of his brain which recognizes the smells is proportionately larger than a human’s is too.
A conservation canine named Tucker smells orca scat. He is helping save wildlife on the seas.
In 2004 at the Sensory Research Institute of Florida State University, dogs were trained to detect melanoma in tissue samples. One dog ‘confirmed’ the presence of melanoma on five patients, and even detected cancer in a sample that was initially deemed negative, but was later found to have a fraction of cancer cells. (Applied Animal Behaviour Science)
Canine Officer Cody is a dual purpose police dog, as are most. His specialties are narcotics location and patrol. Typically, Cody and Officer David Duran patrol by vehicle the streets of Stuart at night and are called in to assist other officers. Cody will complete building searches, track wanted suspects and even apprehend a warned suspect who is hiding. What would perhaps take a few men hours of time, a canine officer will finish in a few minutes. With his tail pointed up and moving back and forth, Canine Officer Cody has tracked suspects across open fields, into woods and even water at risk to his own life. He has apprehended several people.
Canine Officer Cody has been with the Stuart, Florida Police Department for eight years, seven on duty. Like other police dogs, he resides with Officer Duran and his family in Palm City. Cody is friendly with children and loves to eat treats.
Officer Duran and Cody form a unit; training and trust between the handler and canine are an integral part of the cohesiveness of the unit. Each week they join other police dogs from neighboring areas to refresh and learn new skills.
Recently, the Stuart Police Department lost Canine Officer Cody’s counterpart, Officer Beny, who died of cancer. This loss has left Officers Duran and Cody to shoulder greater responsibility. Working 12 hour night shifts, at times, they have arrived home only to be called back to work.
The cost of attaining a dog to be trained as a canine officer is approximately $10 to $12,000 plus the training. Officer Duran is also compensated for Cody’s expenses within his home. A local 24-hour veterinarian’s clinic is available for any canine illness or injury.
Officer David Duran doesn’t see a time when canine officers will not be used. Instead, he believes their usage will increase.
Well appreciated by the town, the K9 unit is regularly greeted with questions from the public about the life of K9 officers. Officers David Duran and Cody are Stuart, Florida Hometown Heroes.
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© 2014 "Hometown Heroes" Kelly Jadon