K-9 Competition

If you’ve ever wondered what a K-9 cop goes through before he hits the streets, now's your chance to find out. Sunday Leon County hosted the statewide certification for these high level officers.

They carry a badge of courage, a heart of gold and a gripping bite of steel. Each of the K-9s from around the state is testing to head out to the streets of Florida and stare into the face of crime. Untrained, they cost about $5,000 and by the end of their training they're four paws are worth more than some cars on four wheels.

Frank Campbell, a Pinellas County K-9 trainer, said, ”Probably once these dogs are done with school we probably have around $50,000 tied up in them, however over a seven-year career we function as a two-man car so it's actually cheaper for the tax payers to have a K-9 unit."

The cost doesn't end there; every year each K-9 has to be recertified in order to qualify as a street level officer.

SGT Mark Peavy of the Tallahassee Police Department, says, "We went out to the community for the last four months both locally and nationally and through some national assistance that we've gotten to help offset the cost of this event."

The dogs are usually purchased from Germany, Holland or Czechoslovakia. They are mostly German or Belgium Shepherds, and mostly male, trained for their characteristic tracking and biting ability, along with their will to obey commands under pressure.
A lot of trainers use German or Czech commands so that no one else can tell their dogs what to do.

In Charlotte County they have figured a way around that. They are the only ones who can tell their dogs what to do. That kind of obedience could mean the difference between catching a crook and watching him walk away. Officers say from here the dogs will move on to the national competition held in Charlotte County later this year.