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K-9 Team Minimize

Deputy James Buscaino and K9 Luke

The Lake County K-9 unit is a vital part of law enforcement efforts in the county including criminal apprehension, search and rescue, forensic evidence, and drug operations. We can often spot K-9 Luke sitting quietly in the back of the patrol car waiting for that call that will set him in motion.

How did K-9 Luke and his Handler Deputy James Buscaino get to be a team? Well it starts with the many years of dog handling experience that LCSO has provided, Chief Deputy Patrick Hedlund as a K-9 Trainer and the citizens of the county that support the program and lots and lots of training.

When handlers and dogs train together, they typically attend a training facility for several weeks. Both the dog and the handler learn how to operate together as a K-9 Unit. The handler learns how to train and work with the dog, and the dog learns, among other things, what to do when given certain commands from the handler. Trainers and handlers use positive reinforcement using the dogs favorite toy, so when a dog on the job is searching for methamphetamines, what they are really looking for is a favorite toy to play with. This is why some types of police dogs, like drug sniffing dogs, should have a strong interest in playing with balls or other toys, so that instinct can be utilized in training. Once they complete their training and join (or form) a K-9 Unit, they continue training several hours each month for the duration of the time they are on the job.

While at the training facility, handlers will learn how to care for and live with their dog, obedience training, aggression control, tracking, trailing, narcotics detection, and agility, among other skills. Because police departments get their dogs from many different places other than the United States, such as Germany and the Czech Republic, the dogs often follow commands in the language native to their country.

Working K-9 means ongoing training for both the handler and the dog. It requires dedication, physical fitness, firm yet gentle control, and the ability to handle the noble responsibility of being a police officer in addition to being a member of a K-9 Unit. Keeping records of the dog's daily activities as well as any other reports and documentation is imperative. Working with animals is very rewarding; working with animals to bring about justice, take criminals off the street, and protect citizens is that much more rewarding.

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