Valdosta Police Dept. welcomes “Iva” to the force

Iva and Officer Turner
Iva and Officer Turner(VPD)
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 8:36 AM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - A new Belgian Malinois police dog named Iva wears the badge of a four-footed officer for the Valdosta Police Department (VPD).

Iva is a two-year-old that now works alongside K-9 handler James Turner. Turner and Iva completed a nine-week course in Alabama, designed for K-9 instructors. They learned narcotic detection, tracking, and apprehension. After graduation, officer Turner officially received Iva as his new partner.

Turner has been with the Police Department for almost six years. Initially, he started as a Patrol Officer but has since transitioned into the K-9 unit, where he has worked for the past three years.

“Once she began to trust me a little more, we formed an emotional relationship, and it has been going very well. You can tell that she is eager to please, and do what I need her to do. She is a thinker, and I can see the wheels constantly turning in her head,” said Officer Turner.

With the completion of his training, Officer Turner can now not only keep Iva up to date on her skills, but he can also train the new Police Dogs as they arrive at VPD. Both new handlers and dogs must complete a significant amount of training before joining and while on the unit.

New Handlers must complete an eight-week course as well as the dogs separately. From there, the pair is required to do at least 16 hours of training monthly to keep skills refreshed.

There are currently a total of seven dogs in the K-9 unit; five serve as dual purpose, one for explosives and firearm detection, and one comfort dog.

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