The Alexandria Police Department’s Canine Unit is a valuable resource utilized by APD personnel. A canine team consists of an on-duty canine police officer and his assigned Department canine dog. The team is available for assignments 24-hours per day. Canine team duties include conducting building searches for hidden offenders, locating missing persons, tracking suspects who have fled the scene of a crime, performing article searches, detecting narcotics or explosives, and conducting public service canine demonstrations.
Due to the canine’s superior sense of smell, hearing, and physical capabilities, a trained law enforcement canine is a valuable asset for a police department to use in order to assist in providing a safe environment for the citizens of the community.
A police canine can also be used to apprehend suspects and be used in crowd control incidents to prevent injuries or property damage.
The police canine is the only weapon an officer can use that can be recalled after being deployed. It also cannot be used against the officer. The canine draws focus to itself without an officer present.
Most police canines are trained to smell for narcotics whether it be during a building or vehicle search. Most, including the Alexandria Police Department K-9s, will scent for the following:
- Methamphetamines (including ecstasy and LSD)
- Crack Cocaine
The Alexandria Police K-9s will go into a “passive” alert to show the handler where the source of where the drugs are. This means they will sit down and stare at the source. Other police canines are “aggressive” alert dogs. This means they will dig at the source to find it.
The Alexandria Police Department K9s are all trained in tracking. The police service dogs are trained to follow ground disturbances.
Building and Area Search
A canine’s sense of smell makes it easier to locate hidden suspects. This also saves officers from walking into an ambush.
A canine can scent recently touched/handled items and alert to them. Dropped handguns, stolen wallets or other items have been located by our K9s.
Top Ten Canine Questions
1. Where do the police dogs stay when they’re not working?
The dogs stay with their handler’s families. It is the responsibility of the canine handler to care for the dog 24-hours a day.
2. Can the dogs do any tricks?
The canines are not trained to do tricks. Their training pertains to the functions required as a working service dog.
3. What breed of dog is used for canine work?
The Alexandria Police canines are Belgian Malinois. This breed of dogs are working breeds that have the proper drive and temperament to complete the tasks assigned.
4. What happens to the dog when it gets too old to work?
In most cases, the dog is retired and given to the handler to keep as part of the family.
5. How much does it cost to purchase a canine dog?
The price varies, but normally the cost exceeds $18,000.00 per dog. This includes the cost of training for the Canine Handler.
6. How do you become a canine handler?
The Alexandria Police Department periodically posts applications for the position of Canine Handler for APD officers that meet certain qulifications. The applicants must pass a series of tests to be placed on the eligibility list.
7. How long do the Canine Handlers and their dogs train?
The canine team continuously trains their dogs to keep them sharp, both at the APD K-9 training center and out in the field while on duty.
8. How many years can a canine dog work?
Depending on their physical health, most canines are able to work an average of 10 years. Some dogs remain very healthy and are able to work beyond that point.
9. What do you feed the dogs and how much do they weigh?
The dogs are fed dry dog food just like your pets at home. The canines, generally weigh about 80-100 lbs.
10. Do the dogs bite?
YES - ALL dogs bite! Never approach any dog without the owner’s permission.