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AMERICAS' POLICE K-9
The k-9 was first employed by police departments in riot situations
Today due to the more sophisticated demands in day-to-day police work, police K-9 undergo
training can encompass not only intense obeience and apprehension but also tracking, drug
detection, bomb detection and cadaver search. The dogs must not only be able to apprehend
and hold the suspect they are sent after, they must also be good diplomats who are friendly and
approachable by children and adults.
The German Shepherd breed was the first Police K-9 to serve. The first city that used K-9 was
New York City in 1907 with the neighboring state of New Jersey following. In 1910 the city
of Glen Ridge New Jersey purchased two Belgian Sheepdogs from the NYPD.
In 1914-1916 the city of Baltimore had two privately owned Airdale Terriers that were used.
The data collected by Law Enforcement Institute Of Sam Houston University Police k-9 suggests the use of
police K-9 had phased out about 1951 thru 1954 when most k-9's were used in the department stores for
In 1954 Dearborn Michigan had 4 dogs and handlers working but the program
lasted only until 1955 when the dogs were sold to Portland Oregon. Portland acquired 11 more
dogs, (German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers) but with lack of training the K-9 unit was
Reasons for k-9 units being disbanded: inadequate funding, well meaning but incompetant trainers,
dogs no suitable for police work and lack of public acceptance and interest.
Soon after 1953 crime rate in the streets exploded and Police Departments recognized the needed role of
the K-9. Trainers were now taking a different approach in training the K-9, possibly the trainers were ex
military, who provided groundbreaking training methods which were extremely successful.
In 1956-57 the city of Baltimore established the first modern k-9 program with the city of Los
Angeles showing a keen interest in doing the same but ultimately decided against it due to most
areas were patroled by vehicles.
In 1959 Baltimore City was firmly established as the K-9
program that inspired other cities such as Lancaster Pa. to send police officers for training to be
a K-9 officer.
By 1970 major cities such as Miami, Philedelphia, Washington, Chicago and St Louis were among the 80
departments using the K-9.