K9 Platoon Ride Along with Sgt. Scott Davis – November 15, 2019
Los Angeles Police K9 Fund’s very own President, Ruth Denburg, went on a ride-along with Sgt. Scott Davis and recorded her experience. See her story and photos below!
Start time: 5 p.m.
The K9 Platoon starts its shift with a workout and training in the gym, followed by a training session with the dogs. Today, two candidates for the Metro K9 Platoon are working out with the squad. They are wearing the bite suits. More about the candidates and the process of qualifying later.
Steve Jenkins was recently promoted to Assistant Trainer, and tonight he is running the dogs’ workout. Officer Jenkins appears in the beautiful sunset shots bending over one of the dogs (who is laser-focused on a perp out of frame) and in the close-up videos discussing the training methods.
Each K9 is worked out individually while the others are in their handler’s vehicles waiting for a turn. This avoids unnecessary distraction while the K9s are training.
Off Leash Field Work
The K9 is trained off leash, a feature that distinguishes LAPD K9 from some other law enforcement agencies, which use very long leads in the field. When searching for a perpetrator, this method enables the handlers to send the dogs ahead to search with their sight and scent and maximize the distance from enemies. When an area is cleared after the K8 does not alert, the officers can safely advance, then continue to send the dogs ahead to search. Sometimes, the dog can’t pinpoint where a scent is coming from, possibly because of a windy or air conditioned location. In this case it helps to have a seasoned handler who knows how to factor in these conditions.
The goal is to have the dog bark, rather than bite, first, unless the BG (bad guy) tries to escape or makes an aggressive move, in which case a bite is in order! In the photos and videos I sent that show a dog off leash in the open field rushing a BG in a bite suit, the goal was to have the K9 corner the perp, bark and keep the perp at bay, but NOT to bite unless he tries to escape or makes an aggressive move. If this happens, the K9 is trained to bite and hold an arm, leg or ankle to restrain the perp until the officers catch up.
The BG in the bite suits also hides in man-size cages on the property so that the K9s can learn to find them, which translates into K9s finding suspected felons hiding in garages, laundry rooms, dumpsters, drainage ditches, and the like. The training emphasis is still on barking and holding unless directly ordered to attack. Even then, the K9s train to come back immediately on command.
The Tunnel, aka The Chute
K9 Nick, whose handler is Almarez, is working out in the long tunnel they call the chute. A BG in a bite suit stands in a cage at the end of the long tunnel; the cage is enclosed but for a small window at face level. He practiced the bark and hold and being called off and called back.
All LAPD K9s are in the shepherd family; when they excitedly turn in circles, they are exhibiting herding behavior.
The commands to the K9s are given in foreign languages, usually of the European countries where the dogs are bred and given basic training before purchase by LAPD. It is not uncommon for a dog to wash out by LAPD standards.
What does it take to join the LAPD Metro K9?
Two vacancies are coming up in the K9 Platoon. In addition to being on the force a minimum of years (I’m not sure how many but most applicants coming onto the force have at least 10 years experience in other divisions), the pool of candidates (now 17 officers), two at a time, go through Skills Day, when they qualify in shooting and firearms, demonstrate that they can set a perimeter, and make good tactical choices in an option simulator, all followed by a 2-week ride along period.
After K9 training, we went to the Metropolitan division headquarters. As Metro division also is home to SWAT, Bomb Squad, and Equestrian Platoon, the garage there is filled with tanks, armored vehicles, bomb explosion trucks, every kind of emergency thing you can think of.