UK Police host annual police dog certification trials


Officer Jason Thomas commands his dog on the catwalk during the agility portion of the United States Police Canine Association Region five certification and trials on July 12, 2016.

Police dogs sniffed, jumped and crawled their way through the United States Police Canine Association Region five certification and trials on Monday and Tuesday.

The UK Police Department hosted the event, which will continue on Wednesday at the Carnahan House on UK’s Coldstream Research Park. 

Officers, their dogs and their supporters came from all over the region five area, which includes Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. This is the first year UKPD has hosted the event. 

At the trials, police dogs are tested in agility, suspect searches, obedience, narcotics detection, explosives detection and more. President of USPCA region five Jason Thomas said about 30 dogs and their K-9 officers were tested during the event. Thomas is a police officer in Evansville, Indiana and his own dog went through the trials.

“(To be a K-9 officer) it’s a lot of extra work and a lot of extra training,” Thomas said. K-9 officers have their dogs live with them. Thomas said K-9 officers train the dogs a minimum of 16 hours a month. 

Thomas said the event is open to the public and happens once a year, since dogs must be certified again yearly.

Many of the dogs come from European breeders and learn commands in different languages. Also, most handlers use a play reward system, meaning dogs will get to play with a toy for a few moments after they complete their work. 

UK Police has three dogs in the department’s K-9 unit, according to their website. The dogs and their handlers are German Sheppard Baska and officer D. Duncan, yellow labrador retriever Junior and officer R. Johnson, and Pink and Sgt. M. Pope. Baska is trained in narcotics detection and Junior and Pink are trained in explosive detection. Pink also served previously in Afghanistan with the United States Marine Corps before joining UKPD, the website said.

UKPD’s K-9 unit is used to secure areas before basketball games, football games and other events and sometimes even during events, according to UKPD’s website.