Members of the Summerville Police K-9 Unit train together every Tuesday with other police and sheriff's department's K-9 Units from the Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester County area. Our unit trains every week for a minimum of 8 hours, or 32 hours a month. Constant training ensures that both the dogs and their handlers work as a unit allowing for trouble shooting in order to fix any potential problems they may have. Dogs are much like humans, in that they learn acts and behaviors by repetition. The more the teams work together, the more proficient they become and the better they perform in the field. We train on every possible scenario imaginable so that the teams will know how to handle them if they encounter them on duty.
Training the handler is as important as training the dog. Our goal is to have our handlers retain as much information as possible, work with the dog continually building trust so that each knows what the other will do. Remaining current with the law is just as important as knowing how to handle the dog.
Officer Candidates for Police K-9 Handler Positions must as a general rule is a proactive patrol officer, who demonstrates a high level of proficiency in all departmental policies and procedures. They must also possess many personality traits such as; the appropriate demeanor, a predilection for working with animals, a professional bearing, intelligence and excellent communication skills before being chosen for this endeavor. The responsibility and demands are overwhelming as these officers have to maintain these animals both on and off duty as they have to be fed, groomed and provided with all appropriate care. All of our dogs live with their handlers enabling them to build a strong bond in addition to making the dogs more sociable by residing with the handler and his or her family.
Record keeping is also important as handlers must be able to document and account for all that the dog has done in the course of a shift. Incident reports, training reports, medical records and costs must all be documented and kept by that handler and the unit’s supervisor. This is a responsibility that cannot be overlooked. Our K-9 Teams are certified in a annual process by the North American Police Working Dog Association. Each team must be certified in its area of specialty and can also choose to be certified in the following areas; Narcotics Detection, Agility, Obedience, Article Recovery, Handler Protection, Trailing, Tracking, Building Searches, and Aggression Control.