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New YPD canines strut their stuff
Pulling an uncooperative suspect from a vehicle during a high-risk traffic stop, chasing down a fleeing offender and searching a dark building for a would-be burglar are just part of the job for the two newest officers of the Yuma Police Department.
They may, however, also bark, growl and bite a lot while they do it.
The two newest members of the force, Officers Grumphy and Troy, are both Belgium Malinois with more than 500 hours of training and multiple certifications. They joined the force in January.
“This is a great day for the Yuma Police Department. We are kicking off our new canine unit. It's a big deal for us and gives us a valuable tool,” said Police Chief Jerry Geier. “We were able to purchase two canine patrol-type dogs, which greatly benefit our operations in the way we do our work.”
Geier added that in the past, anytime YPD had a situation where a dog would have helped, officers had to contact another agency because the department didn't have any.
Officers Grumphy and Troy, along with their handlers, Officers Morgan Patterson and Shawn Bledsoe, were on hand for a press conference Wednesday morning on the lawn in front of YPD to put on some demonstrations showcasing their crime-fighting abilities.
“Our dogs are trained in tracking, apprehensions and they can do building searches,” Geier said. “They can actually take the place of an officer in a circumstance like that, so we don't have to put our officers in harm's way many times. They help keep officers safe.”
The two canine officers were put through several demonstrations, including one displaying obedience, in which Troy walked along with Bledsoe obeying a series of commands. Other demonstrations showed the dogs apprehending a fleeing offender, pulling an uncooperative suspect from a vehicle during a traffic stop and an officer protection drill in which a dog attacks a perpetrator who is assaulting his handler.
“Some of the scenarios you saw here today are scenarios we could encounter in the field, so we try and train these dogs the way they would actually operate in the field,” said Officer Robert Cisneros, who wore a black bite suit and played the role of the agitator in the demonstrations.
The dogs were purchased from Adlerhorst International Inc. in Holland for approximately $9,600 per dog, with the money coming from the Yuma County RICO (Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations) funds.
Geier announced the formation and implementation of the YPD's first-ever, patrol-based K-9 unit late last month. He said creating the K-9 unit is part of his vision for improving the force. While the force has had one narcotics-based K-9 unit for several years, it hasn't had an official patrol-based K-9 unit until now.
Bledsoe, who handles Troy, said most of the commands he uses are in Dutch and the training the dogs received before they were purchased by YPD makes converting them to police dogs easier.
“Our job once we get the dogs is to train them to be police dogs. Because they are trained in a certain way, patrol work comes natural for them. Bite work is kind of a natural thing for them. It is fun for them, but it isn't all they do.”
The main purpose for the dogs, Bledsoe said, is to be used as a location tool.
“They are used to locate people. They are used to locate drugs. We can use them to find drugs and look for evidence.”
He said, “Dogs are creatures of habit. You do something with a dog three times in a row and they pretty much know what is going to happen next. You do things over and over again so the dog gets the image in their head. Once they have that image, they never forget it.”
But it's not all work and no play for Grumphy and Troy. Bledsoe called Troy a real social animal when he isn't working.
“He likes being petted. He likes laying in the hammock at home in the backyard. He is a real easy dog to take care of away from work.”