Officers from all over Region 8 traveled to the Jonesboro Police Department for tips on how to train K9 units.
Agencies from as far as Blytheville, Stone County and Bay are just a few that are participating.
Blake Bristow, corporal with the Jonesboro Police Department and K9 trainer, said this type of training is essential for K9 units.
“It’s very important for the handlers to learn how to understand their dog,” Bristow said. “How to read their dog as far as deployments and learn case law and different things and the legalities surrounding the K9 deployments.”
Bristow said the training he provides to both the dog and its handler is thorough.
“My business, Blue Streak K9, trains police dogs,” Bristow said. “They are fully trained and then the departments buy the dogs and then I train the handlers on how to handle their dog and all the legalities surrounding that as well.”
Bristow said the value of a K9 unit in a community is unimaginable.
“Their value is amazing,” Bristow said. “For example, last year one of our K9’s hit a load of money that pretty much paid for our whole K9 division here in Jonesboro. Where humans have 10 million olfactory senses, a K9 has 200 million olfactory receptors in their nose. So, obviously they can smell things that we could never possibly think about smelling. So, they help us as far as a locating tool finding drugs, missing lost people, criminals that are running from us. So, a very valuable tool.”
Officer TJ Burns with the Bay Police Department trained with his soon-to-be partner Fredo, a dual-purpose dog.
His main focus will be keeping drugs off the streets, but he can help with criminal apprehension if the situation ever arises.
Burns agreed with Bristow on the value of working with a K9 dog.
He also stated that the protection the dog provides its handler is also very valuable.
“Even if I’m riding around by myself,” Burns said. “A lot of the time when we are in our trucks working on reports or on the phone in reference to a call, Fredo tells me, somebody’s coming up to your truck. He’s always on guard.”
Officer Dustin Smith with the Jonesboro Police Department was training as a K9 officer for the first time.
“It’s gonna be a lot of work,” Smith said. “But it’s going to be worth it in the end. Invaluable, these dogs. You can’t replace this dog with a person. They can do things that we can never do. They cost a lot of money to maintain and train, but in the end it’s worth it because your community is going to be safer.”
Smith’s partner will be Rico.
Rico will work in drug, tracking and criminal apprehension.
Bristow said the proof of the worth of these K9 units is in their record.
“Last year our 2015 stats, we did a couple of hundred vehicle sniffs.” Bristow said. “Many of those resulted in felony drug arrests. Also we’ve had many tracks where we were able to solve robberies based off evidence found by the dogs during tracks, located suspects.”
Bristow said the dogs also keep the situation from escalating to violence.
“It’s proven 95 percent of the time a K9 can diffuse a situation just by their presence being there,” Bristow said. "Very few times do we actually have to engage our dog in actual bite apprehension.”
Officers will be training with their K9 units for a couple of weeks.
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