Some of the hardest working members of a police force don’t get paid in money. They are the furry members of the canine (K-9) unit. K-9s are used to protect officers, search for criminals, help find missing people, and search for drugs.
In January 2017, the Omaha Police Department was involved in a standoff. The standoff was into its second day when the decision was made to engage canine officer, Kobus. Upon entering the residence, the suspect began shooting at officers and Kobus was tragically shot and killed. The Omaha Police Department and greater Omaha community was heartbroken over the loss, and we formed a Kobus Memorial Fund to honor and support the unit into the future.
“Kobus was a 9-year-old Belgian Malinois who had served with OPD since 2008. Kobus was preparing to go into retirement in the next several months. The loss of our K-9 brings great sadness to the department and to his partner and handler, Officer Matthew McKinney. Kobus died in the line of duty in order to protect the lives of sworn law enforcement.” – Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer
The K9 unit needs top-notch training to do their job. Once they reach 14-24 months old, dogs with basic obedience and bite work training travel from Europe to their new home in America. Once they arrive in Omaha, the police department spends 3-4 months training with the dog 5 days a week to teach it patrol and narcotics detection. The dog is then required to pass a mandatory state police dog certification in patrol work, obedience and possibly drug detection. The training continues at least once a week throughout a dog’s career and the dog must pass the certification each year to be able to keep working as a police dog. Since the department has rigorous standards when selecting and purchasing a new dog, the majority of the dogs make it through training and certification.
Not only do the dogs undergo extensive training but so do their human partners. Each K-9 handler must learn new techniques in proper searching and study dog psychology, canine case law, and emergency medical treatment for their canine.
It doesn’t stop with training. The average yearly cost to care for 1 police service dog is $1,500 a year in food and veterinary care. Necessary equipment includes bite suits, bite sleeves, agitation muzzles, concealed bite sleeves (all equipment for patrol training), lots of tennis balls or other toys for rewards for narcotics training, waist leashes, long tracking leashes, flea and tick treatment, shampoo, patrol harnesses, special “fur saver” collars, and narcotics (marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin) which is obtained with a court order after arrests and drug cases are adjudicated.
Your donation helps honor and support the K-9 Unit with training and equipment needs.
Fun fact: Since Police Service Dogs come from Europe, the K-9 handler must learn commands in the country of origin that their canine came from. In the OPD Canine Unit over the years, they have had dogs come from the following countries/regions: Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Germany and France. This may sound like a lot of language classes, but in actuality the K-9 handler typically only has to learn approximately 8 commands when starting off with a new dog!