OPPD K-9 Handlers stay busy fighting crime year-round
Each year, the Overland Park Police Department’s Canine Unit (K-9 teams) gets busier and busier with patrol and tactical responses. In fact, in 2012 the team was deployed 272 times, according to Officer and K-9 Trainer Cory Flaming. This ranges from a vehicle stop to a search warrant, or even a large event.
The OPPD Canine Unit also had 127 Patrol Deployments during 2012 which include Criminal Apprehension Utilization like tracks, building searches, felony car stops, area searches, etc. In addition, there were 145 Detection Deployments, which are Narcotics/Explosive searches.
Established in 1989, the OPPD K-9 team is currently assigned to the Emergency Services Section within the OPPD. The department currently has three Police Service Dog (PSD) teams; Officer Justin Doherty with K-9 Deuce, a 10-year old Belgium Malinois certified in narcotics detection and patrol, Officer Ben Hardin with K-9 Cezar, a 6-year old German Shepherd certified in narcotics detection and patrol, and Officer K-9 Trainer Cory Flaming with K-9 Mack, a 3-year old Belgium Malinois certified in explosive detection and patrol. The K-9 Handlers are cross trained in each of these disciplines and respond not only with their assigned K-9’s but also must be qualified to serve as a SWAT/WMD Operator.
Canine handlers must care for their K-9 partner 24 hours a day, so they stay at home with them. Because they are not considered pets, they are kenneled while away from work at the handler’s home. Yet the city pays for a large outdoor and indoor kennel which is installed at the handler’s residence.
When an officer wants to become a canine handler, they go through a new hiring process within the department. It includes a resume, physical, and several interviews including family and neighbors. Once passed, they must also complete a 10-week basic course with their assigned K-9. At the end of the course, they must also pass a difficult certification which is then repeated annually.
As a special service to our local area, all K-9 Teams provide K-9 demonstrations on a regular basis for organizations such as “Pet Pals” at the Deanna Rose Farmstead or “Paws in the Park” at Shawnee Mission Park. As local residents, we are very fortunate to have such a dedicated team to assist us in effectively fighting crime in our community.