Being Ready for the HOT Call!
Being Ready for the HOT CALL Takes Time and a LOT of WORK!
By: Officer Gregory Williams, City of New London Police Department
As we all know being a K9 Officer is a very strong commitment. It?s a trifold commitment. To your agency, to your K9 partner, and to the officers lives that will rely on your preparation. If your not doing everything you can to be sure your partner is exposed to and adapts to various scenarios and tasks, then your not fulfilling your half of the commitment. Some K9 handlers are content with the fact the their dog passes basic certification on a yearly basis and the month prior to certification is when the most training is done, and its off to sleep from there. Guaranteed these types of handlers are few, but we all know of at least one that fits in this category. If you can say ?I never tried that, then there is always work to do?.
?Pressure becomes a negative only when we are ill-prepared to handle it and not ready to perform in a given situation. But if we?ve taken the steps to anticipate how we can deal with these situations, we can actually turn up the volume of pressure and let it benefit us?.
If you have the lackadaisical mentality stated above it will surely lead to the death of your partner, to you, and regrettably to that backup officer that trusted you and your partners preparation. There are specific things you should be aware of about your K9 partner when it comes to patrol work.
1. Can I fire my weapon next to him? 2. Can my back up fire his weapon near the K9 team? 3. Can I recall my dog during a stressful event? 4. Will he transfer from suspect to suspect and fight with me until the end? 5. Can he defend himself alone for more than (5) minutes of fight? 6. Will he bark and alert to suspects he locates in most settings? 7. Will he search anywhere in a building, dark rooms, stairs, crawl spaces, and basements? 8. How will he react to gunfire in a building? 9. Will he exit the cruiser to come aid me during a fight? 10. What happens if I go to the ground first during a fight? 11. Will he alert or apprehend a passive subject? 12. Can I trust my dog at demonstrations? 13. Do I have to hold him, while doing tactical maneuvers, and will this affect my ability to shoot during a hot situation? 14. Can he locate a suspect on a high find in a building or area search or after a track, or on a low find under a trap door? 15. Do I notice the behavior change from tracking, to air scenting when the suspect is near? 16. What happens if I go totally passive, after a fight, (play dead) what will my dog do? 17. What happens when the suspects goes passive after a fight, will my dog stay with the suspect or leave? 18. Can I move with a bunch of officers tactically and safely? 19. What if my dog finds food along the track or in a building? 20. Will my dog work without announcements? 21. Will he stay down and quiet for more than twenty minutes? 22. Will he jump a chain link fence after a suspect, or allow my to carry him over obstacles and up stairs? 23. Will he search (hunt) for long periods of time during building and area searches? 24. Is there someone else that can handle my partner if need be? 25. Will my dog bite a fleeing suspect who is not wearing visible training gear? 26. Can I recall my dog when he is out of my sight? 27. Can I automatically down my dog at any distance from me?
If there are things on this list that you just don?t have the answer to, then there is work to be done. These are not things that are tested once or trained for once. These situations should be part of your in-service training programs and should be varied to the extreme of your imagination while allowing your partner to learn and ?WIN? during his introduction to these new areas. Remember not to change everything at once, build your partner up to the task at hand with smaller tasks that lead to the target. Teach your partner in building blocks so the learned behavior becomes part his routine.
Be sure to motivate your partner to want to complete these tasks. Balance the praise and reward scale so it tips in your favor. Most of all be able to be confident when you ?say ok, its clear you guys can enter?!