MARIPOSA COUNTY – A new K9 program, deployed by the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office in mid-2012, has proven itself to be an important and valuable addition to the department, says Sheriff Doug Binnewies.
“Our community recognizes the value of Police K9, and the enhanced service it provides,” says Binnewies, who hopes to expand the program in the coming years.
The K9 program is funded by federal grant monies disseminated by the California Office of Emergency Services/Department of Homeland Security.
The Sheriff’s Office deploys two well-trained Belgian Shepherd (Malinois) male K9s, named Arthur and Zeus.
“The dogs are fun and beautiful but trust me, you don’t want to see their business faces,” says Sheriff Binnewies. “They are extremely well trained and are good at what they do.”
Dogs and handlers go through a 200-hour Initial Basic Handler course, including obedience, agility, search, tracking, revering, apprehension, muzzle work, protection and detection of specific explosives. Teams must then successfully pass a Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) test, and be certified by a POST-certified evaluator.
In 2013, the dogs and their deputy handlers were deployed 71 times, providing a valuable “force multiplier” to the department and contributing to the success of many a call for service.
During this past year, K9 teams assisted in 17 non-contact apprehensions, where subjects gave up or surrendered to law enforcement’s commands and did not resist or run, due to the K9’s presence. They also conducted 13 building searches, 3 bomb sweeps, and 2 physical apprehensions.
On 10 different occasions, K9 teams were deployed to assist in mutual aid missions with other California law enforcement agencies, were assigned to tracking detail 10 times, helped to execute 8 search warrants, and were utilized in jail deployments 5 times.
In 4 instances, the K9s and their deputy handlers discovered items of evidence that would most likely not have been found without these very specialized noses.
“I have envisioned a successful Police K9 program throughout my entire career here, and I am really pleased at the opportunity to deploy the program,” says Sheriff Binnewies. “I couldn’t be happier with the Deputy Handlers and their dogs.”
The Sheriff says he plans on enhancing the program when staffing and finances allow.
“I envision two additional K9s, so we have at least one K9 deployed in the county 24/7, says the Sheriff. “I thank the community for supporting the Sheriff’s Office and the K9 Program, and I believe everyone sees that it benefits all.”