IAN WARD ’19 | ONLINE AND PHOTO EDITOR • Over the past few months you may have noticed a multitude of police cruisers near the older house on the corner of Union and Milligan Streets. Don’t fear, it’s not a reoccuring meth bust, rather a training ground for local K9 units from across the county and beyond.
It should be said that these training opportunities are a result of renewed police training on campus so that local law enforcement becomes more familiar with our buildings and so that police are not only on campus for enforcement circumstances.
While they were on campus this past week, The Bachelor was able to catch up with the K9s and their handlers, as well as witness various drills simulating various possible situations all located on our quaint campus.
The three officers and accompanying K9s we caught up with were Officer Michael Plant of the Crawfordsville Police Department, Deputy John Barnes of the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Robbie Hechinger ’13 from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office as well as Crawfordsville Police Department officer Corey Rohl who assists in training of the K9’s.
From the very beginning it was clear that the officers not only take this part of the job very seriously, but also that the K9 at large is just as valuable and in certain circumstances more valuable than human officers. This is due to the fact that it could take officers hours to find concealed drugs or a person who is evading police. The dogs offer a quick and effective solution by finding these more quickly. This is partially due to the fact that all Montgomery County based K9s are cross trained in narcotic detection and human tracking/attack.
For example, earlier this week, there were small amounts of narcotics were concealed in Hays House (for training purposes.) Within seconds of guiding K9 officers through the suspected room, the narcotics were detected and found. This finding is not just pointing to a general area, but rather to a specific point. Indeed, when the narcotics were located in the back of a drawer, the K9 “hit” on that section and even crawled under the desk to signify the specific location.
Also, while simulating an uncivil person the dog is quick to get aggressive and find humans that are hiding as well as attack if necessary; only then returning to a state that is not only relaxed, but playful. This is partially due to the fact that these dogs have been trained since near birth, and go through so much training that they are not entering service until they are between one and two years old. This entering of service occurs after six weeks of training where the chosen law enforcement officer meets the dog and trains with him so that once they go home together they are one unit. They not only understand each other but are able to work together well.
This cooperation is partially through the learning of commands that are in a foreign language as most Police dogs are of European descent and were taught in that language.
This offers the obvious question, how much do these K9 officers cost? According to Officer Plant of CPD, between the dog, training, and vehicle outfitting, each K9 officer costs roughly $20,000. However, Officer Plant was quick to point out that these assets usually pay off in about a year of their service. This is because in drug apprehension alone, it is not unheard of for a K9 to uncover large concealed amounts of drugs, sometimes with a street value of over $100,000. This effectiveness also leads to great collaboration between departments when the need for a K9 arises. According to Deputy Hechinger, if Montgomery County needs a K9 he could be called in, and he could call Boone County or Crawfordsville if his K9 is unavailable. This inter-agency cooperation is paramount as the need for K9s is there but the number of K9s is limited. Lastly, these officers are always on call and could be called in whenever, wherever.
So, as you can see the K9s that are training on campus offer an invaluable asset to the Crawfordsville community and we at The Bachelor are grateful for the K9s and their handlers for their continued service to our community.
Be sure to check out next week’s issue for a profile on Deputy Robbie Hechinger ’13 and his path to becoming a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office K9 handler.