Thomasville- A lot of police officers rely on their K-9 partners. Officers say that dogs are just as much members of the force as their human counterparts. And they demonstrated that for WALB.
As the Thomasville Police Department's K-9 unit training night unfolds, it becomes easy to see why dogs are so important to crime fighting, and especially their partners. They're both fearless police officers.
The TPD has three dogs and three officers who cover almost all aspects of police work 24-7. "Our dogs are dual purpose. They are patrol dogs and narcotic detection dogs. The patrol part encompasses man work, tracking, building searches, handler protection, evidence searches, narcotic detection, drug dogs, and aggressive alert," says K-9 officer Alvin Hughes.
Speed and agility are the main reasons police departments use dogs. They can close the distance between and officer and a suspect far faster than any human can. "Our academy that we go to, with the Tallahassee Police Department, lasts about 600 hours, six to 800 depending on how much training is actually needed," says K-9 officer Chris Brock.
"The dog has to heel beside you off leash. And he has to also have distance control, where, if you put the dog in a sit, you walk off 50 feet away and you make the dog lay down and sit back. The dog also has to be socialized," says K-9 officer Sgt. Lavone Shiver.
That socialization is what helps these dogs leave work behind at the end of each watch. "He's very attached to my family. He will defend my family. He'd probably bite my wife over me. He loves my wife," says Shiver. "You have fun at work, then you get to have fun at home, take the dog with you. He lives with you, he's part of the family," adds Hughes. It's a work relationship and a friendship that helps keep drugs and criminals off the street.
The TPD's K-9 unit responds to calls in any South Georgia county in Thomasville's general region.