Officer Scott Wilberger - Loki
My name is Scott Wilberger and my partner is Loki, a purebred German Shepherd.
I began my law enforcement career as a Correctional Officer with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office in 2004. I joined the Unified Police Department in 2010 and have worked as a patrol officer in Kearns, Magna and Midvale. I joined the UPD SWAT Team in 2012. This gave me the solid tactical foundation that I needed to become a successful K9 handler.
As I prepared myself to join the large group of my colleagues who were competing for the only open position in the K9 Unit, I came to realize what a competitive process that it actually is! Truly successful K9 Units are built on talent retention. I was told that K9 handlers do not normally reach their peak effectiveness prior to their third year of service and now I can see why that is true.
K9 handlers do not normally leave the Unit unless they transfer or promote out. Our Team of six K9 handlers has about 75 collective years of police K9 experience. In the UPD, less than 1.5% of sworn officers are able to get a position in the K9 Unit. I quickly saw that I was competing for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Now, as my initial training period is coming to a close, I have a much more clear understanding of the fact that, even though police K9 is one of the most sought after assignments in law enforcement, it is also one of the most dangerous and as well as one of the most technically difficult. To those officers and others who see the dogs work but do not fully understand the level of education, effort and mind-numbing patience that goes into training such a dog, the assignment might seem easy and attractive. The truth is that not only do we have to maintain our other police skills; we must also study animal behaviorism, behavior modification, a large body of detailed case law and some of the skills of a veterinarian. Professional K9 officers are both dog psychologists and very proactive and proven police officers. Unlike firearms, police motorcycles, Intoxilyzer machines, radar guns or other police equipment, a service dog is definitely not just another simple piece of police equipment!
Loki and I are newcomers to the K9 unit. I was selected to become a K9 handler in September 2013. Loki was born in March 2012 and he hails from Frankfurt Germany. He has a big head and a beautiful sable coat. With the assistance of my Team, I certified Loki through the State of Utah as a drug detection dog. He has already made drug seizures and drug related arrests. Loki will be certified as a patrol dog very soon.
Although his patrol dog training is not yet complete, Loki already has a felony patrol arrest under his collar and he is poised to make many more during his working lifetime.In the short time that he has been my partner, Loki has become a beloved member of my family. I am confident we will enjoy a long and successful career together.