New Four-Legged Police Officers Meet the Public
K9 Unit dogs are essential to police work, plus great PR
ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage Police Department has a few new officers on the street, but they're not the human kind: After graduating from the academy last year, the newest members of the department's K-9 Unit were introduced to the public Saturday during the annual "Dollars for Dogs" meet-and-greet.
While you might not see APD’s canine unit out and about very much, it’s a major part of the department.
But that's where the Anchorage community comes in – all of the dogs on the force are paid for by Dollars for Dogs, a nonprofit group that's been supporting the unit for the past thirty years.
The Anchorage Police Department's smallest officers have some of the biggest jobs.
"They are busy all night long, from the time they come on to the time they go home,” said Sergeant Jason Smith of the K9 Unit. “There's a lot of work, and they will go, if there's not work for the dog at the very moment, they'll help patrol out, things like that."
And after just two months on the streets, Officer Christopher Nelson and his partner Doc have already covered a lot of ground.
"He's had a lot of good success; he's done well clearing buildings, had a couple finds there, and then we've had a couple successful tracks too, where he found people hiding.”
As many as four canines are on duty every night, tracking suspects for a variety of crimes and assisting officers with everything from burglary to assault cases.
But today, the job description is a little different: At the annual dollars for dogs open house, it's all about showing people a different side to the men in blue.
And in some ways, they say the department’s canine officers aren't so different from your average family pet.
Because while they put the teeth in local law enforcement, they're the warm and fuzzy side of it too.
It costs more than $10,000 to purchase the dogs, who very often can end up saving an officer's life, and Dollars for Dogs is run entirely by volunteers.
If you want to learn more about the program or how you can participate, you can find all the information here.