K-9 units vital to law enforcement, aid in more than 300 calls l - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

K-9 units vital to law enforcement, aid in more than 300 calls last year

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Posted By: Bayley Bischof Channel 8 Eyewitness News 

From sniffing for drugs, looking for evidence and tracking suspects, Lancaster County and Lincoln Police’s seven K-9 units more than earn their uniforms.

"They're an absolute must to have,” said K-9 Unit Captain Danny Reitan. “Both in tracking down wanted fugitives, getting narcotics off the street, there's so many things the dog teams bring to the street."

But there's a lot that goes into getting the Belgian Malinois, which are straight from the Netherlands, up to snuff.

"The handler and dog go to 13 weeks of training at the law enforcement training academy that's run by the Nebraska state patrol. They do 6 weeks in narcotics and 7 weeks in patrol and after they get certified, they're certified as a team to come back and work."

And if they can’t meet the high standards the department requires, the dogs don’t get the job.

Because the work they do, is that important.

Captain Reitan said between LPD and LSO’s seven K-9 teams, they aided in more than 300 calls.

The teams are on call 24–7, and only the dog’s handler can work with the dog.

The units go to every swat call, they can search buildings, detect narcotics, detain suspects and more.

That's what LPD’s recruit class learned at their training Thursday.

They were introduced to the K-9 unit, and trained on when to call a K-9 and what to do when one arrives.

Because these aren't just any dogs, they’re police officers, and they can save lives.

They’re trained to bite when commanded, which comes in handy when an officer is injured in a dangerous area that human officers can’t safely enter.

The K-9 officer can bite the officer’s arm and latch on, and then the handler will pull the dog and the injured officer to safety.

Captain Reitan said the K-9 units have many more skills as well.

But there's something about these K–9 units you may not know.

Every dog, which costs about $10,000 is paid for by donations from the community.

"This can come from businesses, a lot of ours come from private citizens who donate a little bit at a time, we also have some donors who are much more generous and we appreciate all donors, this program wouldn't exist without it,” Reitan said.

If you want to donate to the program, call Lincoln Police at 402-441-6000 and ask for the K-9 Unit.

Reitan said to also remember, the K-9 units are working dogs, not pets.

If you see a team working the field they’re likely assisting in a criminal investigation. Reitan said do not approach the dog, and keep your own pets inside so the team can focus on their job.

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