UIPD adding two new police dogs to force


During police-dog training, it’s not uncommon to hear commands being shouted out by police officers in German, Czech, and Dutch.

Not just anyone can call out these foreign phrases and expect a response, though. The dog will only respond to its owner’s voice.

These dogs — which are trained in explosive detection, tracking, apprehension, building and article searches — are brought in from countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic, which is why commands have to be given in the native language of the country they came from.

After being brought into the United States, the dogs go to a police-dog kennel where officers go to choose dogs for their departments.

Though the dog belongs to the police department, they are the responsibility of the individual officers, who are required to take them home, feed them, and care for them.

Bernhard said when he went to the kennel, he looked at two dogs, but they weren’t interested in him.

“The second I saw Jago, it was a good fit,” Bernhard said.

UI police Officer Jackie Anderson, who is also a dog handler, said handlers have very close relationships with their dogs.

“You spend more time with these dogs than any other living being,” she said.

For her, that time is spent with her dog, Falo.

Jago and Falo are both new to the UI police to replace Axel — a dog that has already retired — and Barry, who is due for retirement soon.

Barry belongs to UI police Officer Brad Schramm.

Though Schramm spends all his time with Barry, it is not up to him whether he gets to keep him after retirement — it’s up to the department.

So far, Schramm said, the department has been very good about selling the dogs to their respective owners for a very reasonable price once the dogs are due for retirement.

Officers become familiar with the dogs’ personalities for the first time during the six-month training process they undergo to become a dog handler.

“The training is more for us to learn how to handle them,” Anderson said. “The dogs already know what they’re doing.”

Once the six-month training is complete, the dogs have to go through 16 hours of training with their handlers every month.

Wednesday was a multi-agency training day. Police dogs and their handlers from Cedar Rapids, Marion, Coralville, and the UI police got together to train their dogs with explosives along with the FBI.

This time, the dogs were being trained with peroxide explosives that have lately been popular among terrorists, FBI agent Don Neily said.

The explosives in the course the dogs and their handlers have to go through are designed for the dog to be able to pick up the scent, but are not designed to detonate.

Though the training is for the dogs to pick up scents, officers are required to go through the course with the dog.

Bernhard explained that undergoing training for a bomb-detection dog is a lot more stressful than undergoing training for a narcotics detection dog, because of the amount of pressure that comes with a bomb threat.

He said any dog can be a police dog — they just have to have the drive to do it.

“Law and military dogs have a very high prey drive,” he said. “If you have a dog that has this drive, you’ve won the lottery.”

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