JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Monday kicked off a week-long training session for twelve officers and their K9s, but this is more than your average training course. The dogs and their handlers are being introduced to scenarios they don't normally deal with to better not just themselves or their departments but the community as a whole.
Training week for the K9 officers and their human handlers means being thrown into situations such as tracking and apprehension of a suspect or obedience during live fire.
Von Klein Stein Working Dogs out of Sherwood, Arkansas is in town for the week, training a dozen K9 teams from police and sheriffs departments throughout Region 8. Owner and head trainer, Criss Gardner says this is advanced training.
"Last year we ran the same type of school but one of the things that Jonesboro Police Department wanted to do was step it up one level so each year we're trying to bring something new to 'em," Gardner said.
They're also critiquing officers during training to fine-tune their skills.
While it's re-certification for many of these police dogs, for JPD's newest crime fighter, Cash, it's his first.
"The dogs watch each other, they learn from each other so it's important for Cash to get out here and get the experience and it's important for me and Cash to bond during this experience so both of us get the training," Officer Brett Nolen told Region 8 News.
Nolen and Cash have only been working together for two weeks so this five-day session is imperative for these partners.
"He feeds off me, I feed off him. Everything that I know goes down that leash and into him and he responds to it."
The officers and trainers agree, it's a session that benefits everyone, not just a specific officer, dog or department.
"We go to other agencies, they'll come to us. So if we're off, one of those other agencies comes in to fill our voids," Garner said. "We're a big family, we're here to help each other."
"It's important for the citizens to know that we get out here and train this hard and our department puts this much faith in us to get out here and get this stuff done," Nolen said. "It's a real special moment for all of us."
Training will move to different areas of Craighead County throughout the week.
JPD says normally, departments travel to Sherwood to train with Von Klein Stein Working Dogs but since JPD's number of police dogs has increased over the years, they had VKSWD come to Jonesboro.
This means less money the department has to spend and also gives smaller police departments and the sheriff's department an opportunity to train.