K9 Police Challenge Coin

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K9 Police Challenge Coin

A police dog, known in some English-speaking countries as a "K-9" or "K9" (a homophone of "canine"), is a dog that is specifically trained to assist police and other law-enforcement personnel. Their duties include: searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding crime scene evidence, and attacking people targeted by the police. Police dogs must remember several verbal cues and hand gestures. The most commonly used breeds are the German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois, Bloodhound and Dutch Shepherd. Recently, the Belgian Malinois has become the dog of choice for police and military work due to their intense drive and focus. Malinois are the smaller, agile version of the German Shepherd and have less health issues.
However, a well-bred working line German Shepherd is just as reliable and robust as a Malinois.

In many countries, the intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a criminal offence.

Police dogs are in widespread use across the United States. K-9 units are operated on the federal, state, county, and local level and are utilized for a wide variety of duties, similar to those of other nations. Their duties generally include drug, bomb, and weapon detection and cadaver searches. The most common police dogs used for everyday duties are Belgian Malinois though other breeds may be used to perform specific tasks.

On the federal level, police dogs are rarely seen by the general public, though they may be viewed in some airports assisting Transportation Security Administration officials search for explosives and weapons or by Customs and Border Protection searching for concealed narcotics and people. Some dogs may also be used by tactical components of such agencies as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Marshals Service.

Most police agencies in the United States - whether state, county, or local – use K-9s as a means of law enforcement. Often, even the smallest of departments operates a K-9 team of at least one dog, while the officers of more metropolitan cities can be more used to working with dozens. In the former case, police dogs usually serve all purposes deemed necessary, most commonly suspect apprehension and narcotics detection, and teams are often on call; in the latter case, however, individual dogs usually serve individual purposes in which each particular animal is specialized, and teams usually serve scheduled shifts. In both cases, police dogs are almost always cared for by their specific handlers. K-9s are not often seen by the public, though specialized police vehicles used for carrying dogs may be seen from time to time.

It is a felony to assault or kill a federal law enforcement animal, and it is a crime in most states to assault or kill a police animal. Yet despite common belief, police dogs are not treated as police officers for the purpose of the law, and attacking a police dog is not punishable in the same manner as attacking a police officer. Though many police departments formally swear dogs in as police officers, this swearing-in is purely honorary, and carries no legal significance.

Police dogs also play a major role in American penal systems. Many jails and prisons will use special dog teams as a means of intervening in large-scale fights or riots by inmates. Also, many penal systems will employ dogs – usually bloodhounds – in searching for escaped prisoners.

At the federal level, police dogs play a vital role in homeland security. Federal law enforcement officials use the dogs to detect explosives or narcotics at major U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports. L. Paul Waggoner of the Canine Performance Sciences Program at Auburn University and an expert on police dogs told Homeland Preparedness News, "It is my perspective that detector dogs are a critical component of national security - and they also provide a very visible and proven deterrent to terrorist activities."

In October 2017, the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Intergovernmental Affairs Subcommittee held a hearing about whether there is a sufficient supply of dogs that can be trained as police dogs. Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL) said that the continued ISIS-inspired attacks in the U.S. and all over the world "have driven demand through the roof" for police dogs. During testimony at the subcommittee hearing, a representative from the American Kennel Club said that between 80-90 percent of dogs purchased by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Defense come from foreign vendors, mostly located in Europe.

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