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Information Letter

This organization was organized on October 22, 1977 and we are celebrating our 40th Anniversary this year! The goal of this organization is stated as, "Dedicated to assisting work dog teams throughout the world". The objectives are to:

  1. Unite and assist all law enforcement agencies in the training and continued improvement of all police work dogs.
  2. Establish a working standard for all police work dogs, handlers and trainers, through an accreditation program.
  3. Provide educational material through publications, state and national training workshops.
  4. Improve the image of the working police dog to the general public.

The North American Police Work Dog Association strives to enhance the use of police work dogs by law enforcement agencies through continuing education in the form of local, state, and national workshops, held periodically throughout the year. At the time of organization, it was decided that all Regular Members will be full time or retired law enforcement officers (Federal, Military, State, County, or Municipal) involved with police work dogs. Associate Members would be permitted but with restrictions. Some years later the requirements for Regular Members has been edited to that which is shown below. Associate Members do not have to be law enforcement officers. They must be sponsored each year by a Regular Member and submit a current criminal history check. Additionally, Associate Members do not have any vote in this organization and they may attempt to certify with their dog team only in restricted phases.

The annual dues are forty-five Dollars ($45.00) at this time. New members will receive a membership card, NAPWDA patch, copy of the Bylaws and Certification Rules and other periodic publications (NAPWDA Magazine 3 times per year) as they become available. Each year a member renews his/her membership, they will receive a new membership card.

Regular Members - Full initial membership in this association shall be open to any active law enforcement officer, military police, federal, state, county, municipal or correction officer who is a canine handler, trainer, canine administrator or person who was a law enforcement canine officer and is now employed full time as a canine trainer or handler for a recognized law enforcement agency. Full membership shall also be open to any retired (vested or collecting a pension) law enforcement officer, military police, federal, state, county, municipal or correction officer who was a canine handler, trainer or canine administrator at the time of retirement. Regular NAPWDA members who are current in their dues at the time they leave their canine unit and remain a law enforcement officer are still eligible to be a Regular member so long as they remain active in NAPWDA and current in their dues. All regular members will be ineligible to vote at the first Executive Committee election following their membership acceptance. If a law enforcement agency pays for the member's membership dues, the agency has the right to reassign that membership to another person anytime during that dues period. The change in membership by the law enforcement agency must be in writing to the membership chairperson. The written change will include the current member's complete information and the new replacement person's complete information on a NAPWDA membership application. Accredited NAPWDA Master Trainer's in good standing who have been in NAPWDA for 20 years or more are awarded lifetime memberships.

Associate Members - An Associate member shall enjoy all privileges except that he/she shall not have any voting privileges, nor shall serve on the Executive Committee Board. All Associate members must provide a current Criminal History Records Check at the time they initially join and upon renewing yearly. Any criminal convictions for crimes are grounds for review by the Membership Committee and can result in denial or revocation of or from Associate membership. All Associate members must be re-sponsored each year with the signature of a sponsoring member.

Associate members may include:

  1. Any person who trains canines for an established law enforcement agency and sponsored by a regular member.
  2. Any person sponsored by a regular member.
  3. An active firefighter who is a canine handler or trainer with their fire department and is assigned arson investigation duties through the use of the trained Accelerant K9 for that department.

Certification of Associate member's dogs will be determined by the Master Trainer. Associate members dogs can only be certified in: Obedience, Article Search, Area Search, Search and Rescue Area Search, Tracking, Trailing, Building Search, Cadaver, Explosives and Accelerant (Accelerant -only if the Associate member is an active firefighter who is a canine handler or trainer with their fire department and is assigned arson investigation duties through the use of the trained Accelerant K9 for that department. This test certification will not be valid for any private or non Fire/Law Enforcement Department investigation.)

The organization is comprised of an Executive Board elected every four (4) years by the general regular membership. The Executive Board is comprised of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and membership chairperson. There are also three (3) elected Trustees along with an alternate. The trustees are elected in the same manner, to four (4) year terms also. Their elections are held at the end of the second year of the Executive Board term. The president appoints committee members and chairpersons as needed for various functions. The NAPWDA Accreditation Board is a standing committee made up of Master Trainers. No member, including elected officers of NAPWDA receives a salary. Everyone volunteers their time.

The accreditation of Regular Members as NAPWDA Trainers or Master Trainers was formulated. These persons must meet stringent criteria before being permitted to apply for these positions. The rules for these accreditation's are annually reviewed by the Executive Board and updated whenever necessary. The requirements have been increased over the years so that we may be assured these persons are truly qualified for those positions. Trainers and Master Trainers are required to complete 8 hours of approved Continuing Education per year and to file an annual updated resume with the NAPWDA national Secretary where it is kept on file. The requirements for these accreditations are filed in the NAPWDA Rules for Certification and Bylaws Book.

Regular members may wish to submit their respective training areas for accreditation by NAPWDA if it meets the criteria required by NAPWDA certification rules. This accreditation is valid for two years and must be renewed immediately if the area is changed or at the end of the two years. The requirements are printed in the NAPWDA Rules for Certification and Bylaws book.

The increasing number of police canine teams indicates the immediate need for an aggressive organization dedicated to the development, improvement, training and certification of police work dogs. In order to protect the public safety and to add a useful tool to the police department, the canine team is in need of an organization with a large resource of information. Administrators and dog handlers are in need of an accreditation program to guarantee the trained canines performance. Valid certification benefits the officer when giving court testimony and making apprehensions. Valid certification also eliminates the liability of the poorly trained dog team.

The formation of this organization is to promote and assist in the development of thoroughly trained police canines, thereby becoming an effective and formidable team in the prevention and detection of crime. A minimum acceptable standard of performance for police canines should include the following seven areas:

  1. Obedience - Both on and off leash, verbal and hand signals.
  2. Building Search.
  3. Area Search - Large outdoor areas looking for felons or lost individuals.
  4. Article Search - Lost or discarded evidence.
  5. Tracking and/or Trailing - Fleeing Felons or follow the trail of lost persons.
  6. Aggression Control - Apprehend the fleeing felon and protect the handler from physical attack.
  7. Additional training and certification is offered in Narcotic, Explosive, Cadaver, and Accelerant Detection and is a definite asset.

Member K-9 teams may elect to attempt certification as a team, which consists of a handler and his/her dog, in any of the accredited phases of police dog work, endorsed and offered by NAPWDA. The various phases offered for testing and the rules for the specific tests are printed in the NAPWDA Rules for Certification and Bylaws book. The rules are continually reviewed to mandate that NAPWDA minimum standards are in line with current law enforcement standards and specific law requirements. The test is completed on a pass /fail basis. No points or any other scoring of these tests are awarded as this organization is not one of competitions or contests. Only an accredited NAPWDA Master Trainer may certify a NAPWDA member K-9 team upon their successful completion of any or all phases attempted. This certification is only valid for a period of one (1) year from the date of the test(s), and as long as the handler is a current member of NAPWDA and the team remains together. If for any reason the team is split up, then the new handler with this dog or the original handler with a new dog must immediately retest. Additionally, if the team which is certified were to attempt to test again within the one (1) year period, and fail a phase or phases in which it had been currently certified in, then the original certification is immediately void with notification being sent to the team and their department with the recommendation to retrain immediately and attempt to retest within six (6) months. Records of all certification tests, passes and failures, are kept by the K-9 team, Master Trainer and the national organization Secretary. These records are entered into the organizations computer system and kept for permanent record, able to be used for criminal and civil court matters.

NAPWDA publishes a News Magazine which is sent out to each member 3 times per year. Materials within this magazine range from announcements of upcoming workshops, a few advertisements, to a large number of training articles, techniques, veterinary medicine information for K-9 health care, legal briefs and training aids.

The higher performance standard offered by this Association can be accomplished through informative working workshops that allow handlers and their dogs to participate in specific training exercises under the immediate direction of the world's most renowned experts. Part of this organization's training will include the introduction of successful training methods utilized by these experts. The free flowing exchange of knowledge and new techniques through workshops and educational materials, training aids and newsletters, is designed for the improvement of the proficiency and credibility of the canine team.

The Association is a non-stop source of vital information and enthusiastically invites regular members and associate members to submit to the Newsletter Editor any information they think would be beneficial. Upon review, this information will be reprinted and sent to members.

The list of accredited Trainers, Master Trainers, and Accredited Training Areas is always being updated, and is published in the newsletter as well as in the NAPWDA web site (www.napwda.com). They are always available upon request from the national secretary, to insure the availability for proper training to any police work dog team member.

At present NAPWDA membership is approximately 3,500 total members, of which 475 are Associate members. The remaining members are either current or retired law enforcement officers. There are 50 state coordinators at this time.

NAPWDA currently has 33 nationally Accredited Trainers and 70 nationally Accredited Master Trainers. Remember these persons are either current or retired law enforcement K9 officers, not civilian or private citizens in a private business.

As of the date of this letter, NAPWDA Master Trainers have certified more than 65,000 K9 teams in the United States.