Leaps Demo 2010

The Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake joined several partner police departments to demonstrate to the public the level of service provided by our police service dog teams. Police service dogs have been used for well over 100 years by police agencies across the globe in order to increase the level of safety for our citizens and police officers. These service animals also increase the level of efficiency and effectiveness of our public safety efforts. Regardless of the increase of technology that has become available to police agencies, the police service dog still has not become obsolete. There is no technology available that can replace the police dog’s innate ability to protect our communities.

The primary function of the police service dog is to use its immeasurable olfactory ability to detect and follow trails of human scent. Human scent is not detectable by either man or other technology but it is invaluable, invisible evidence that allows us to locate criminal suspects, disoriented persons and lost children. We each have a unique odor just as we have individual fingerprints and DNA make-up. Our service dogs are able to memorize this unique odor and follow it to its source even in the presence of other competing odors.

Secondarily, police service dogs have other unique abilities. All of their five senses are designed to hunt and capture. They see movement not noticeable to the human, they hear what we cannot hear, they smell what we cannot smell and they even use their sense of taste and touch while they hunt. Our dog’s innate drive to protect also serves to make our work much safer and more effective. They run faster than we can and they have a level of aggression that when triggered, allow them to subdue the most dangerous criminals. They naturally protect themselves and their handlers and will take on the toughest threats to our communities; sometimes at the cost of their own lives.

Unlike other police tools and defensive police weapons, the police dog can be called back to the handler if the situation warrants. Our dogs are trained to detain persons who are not actively fleeing or exhibiting aggressive behavior by catching up to the fleeing or hiding suspect, stopping short of the subject, and barking aggressively until the dog’s handler arrives to take over the situation. If the situation warrants, these highly trained animals will bite and hold a dangerous subject causing minimal injury compared to some other police weapons. Normally, the psychological effect of being confronted by an aggressive police service dog is enough to make most criminals to become compliant.

The Unified Police Department uses several breeds of dog to accomplish the different objectives that we have in the service of our public safety responsibility. We use German Shepherd Dogs, Belgium Malinois’, Labrador Retrievers, Bloodhounds and other mixed breeds. Our dogs are used to find people, drugs, explosive devices, evidence contaminated with fresh human scent, and human remains. The UPD has one of the most comprehensive K9 Units in the Country.

During these times when limited resources and budget constraints are simply unavoidable, the UPD has reached out to our private sector partners in order to provide the level of service that is expected of us. We depend on our friends in the community who see the value of the police service dog and can provide the support that we need to provide the highest level of service possible. We have many supporters, but one organization that has come forward to help us increase our dog’s level of service to protect our communities is the Lawyer’s Endowment for Accident Prevention (LEAP). Mr. Scott Brown manages this endowment and has gone beyond our expectations by sponsoring a Bloodhound for the Unified Police Department. Mr. Brown’s organization also stepped in when a Salt Lake City Police Department patrol dog, one of the most accomplished in the Nation, passed away early in his career due to cancer. It was Mr. Brown’s inspiration that lead to the LEAP K9 demonstration that we hope will become an annual event that takes place in August.

This event is designed to show the public how our police agencies work hand-in-hand to provide the highest level of police service dog service found anywhere in the Country. We work to provide a comprehensive display of our dog’s competencies in all areas of public safety and investigation. This year Mr. Don Skaggs, another avid supporter of our K9 Unit, provided a helicopter deployment demonstration. Mrs. Christine Engh, provided a beautiful venue for our event. Christine has developed the Cottonwood Canyons Pet Memorial Gardens and is using her venue to honor our service dogs that have been killed in the line-of-duty and those that have spent their lives in service to our communities. Her contribution can be seen at www.utahpetcemetary.com.

Utah police K9 handlers, whichever police department they work for, are among the top in the nation and are providing the highest level of service possible. We cannot do what we do without public support and we welcome whatever support you can provide. If you would like to support the level of service that your police dogs provide, please click on the “Donate” tab at www.updk9.org. We hope that you will stay in touch with our site and visit us at the 3rd annual LEAP K9 demonstration next year!