There are many facets that make up the Corpus Christi Police Department, one of them is the K9 Unit. KRIS 6 wanted to take a look inside a day of training with the K9 unit, especially with the newest member of the squad, K9 Officer Damon.
Within the CCPD K9 Unit, each K9 officer has a different job to do. They train every week and reiterate the different drills and techniques.
“You have a lot of theories out there that the dog can only do this or only do that, these are amazing animals,” says Lieutenant Lee Preiss of CCPD K9 Unit. “If they can smell it, then they can find it. A lot of their senses are so much more heightened than ours and we use that to our advantage.”
On Wednesday, KRIS 6 followed through a day of training, to see just what it takes to become a K9 officer. Throughout the morning, each handler and their K9 worked diligently on searching through an abandoned building. This would help the K9’s focus on odor and alerting their handler on where to enter.
The newest member of the unit, is K9 Officer Damon, his handler Officer Devin Haywood says they have been training since the end of January, and so far he’s learned that Damon is a fast-learner and a quiet thinker. Haywood says the biggest challenge is still learning to read Damon while in training and during critical thinking situations. “Whenever they’re in odor or whenever they’re on a track. Whenever they’re finding a suspect, just knowing the little changes that your dog does to tell you, “hey I’m alerting to an odor or a person”,” says Haywood.
Each K9 has their own job that they do, and it’s not always a bite. Six months ago the CCPD K9 Unit decided to focus on a job position called utility. Their current utility, is K9 Officer Tanja. Lt. Preiss says she does the same kind of searching that any other dog does, she just doesn’t bite. Whether it’s searching for a missing child, a missing elderly person, or any kind of rescue including active shooter situations.
“They’re here to please their handler, they’re here to play a game. They’re not here to hurt anyone,” says Lt. Preiss. “And that’s the last thing we want as handlers is for these dogs to hurt anyone.”
Most importantly, these K9’s have one job and one job only, and that is to serve and protect. Senior Officer Bernie Moss recalls a time that his dog, El Vfingo helped him in a scary situation. “You learn how they take care of you, how they protect the city; I was actually, we had an incident one time where Vfingo protected me from somebody with a machete.”
“There’s something really neat about learning to communicate with an animal that can’t talk. It’s really a neat experience,” says Lt. Preiss.
Each handler tells KRIS 6 that they believe this is the coolest position in the department. They want the public to know that they love people seeing them with their K9’s and to respect their dogs while on duty, and to keep distance while the K9’s are working.
All K9 Officers and handlers:
Senior Officer Shaun Orsak and K-9 Qwina
Officer Devin Haywood and K-9 Damon
Senior Officer Josephine Ressler and K-9 Harry
Senior Officer Chris Lynch and K-9 Tanja
Officer Bernie Moss and K-9 L-Tvingo