KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s a warning you never want to be on the receiving end of. A law enforcement officer alerting you that a K-9 is about to be released. Its mission is to find you and bite you.
That was the message this month in Jefferson County as the Sheriff’s Office hosted one of two training sessions for its officers and surrounding counties.
“It’s good to know how these other teams work and know these handlers so we can work together on the street,” says Lieutenant Tim Herzog, the K-9 Supervisor for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “We learn how the other K-9 teams work. A lot of times there will be inter-agency scenarios where we have a couple teams from our agency, a couple from Sever County, and we’re working near the county line looking for somebody.”
The training sessions run for eight hours each and are mandated to be held twice a month.
“It’s like anything else in this job,” Lt. Herzog tells 6 News, “It’s a perishable skill and the more you do it the better you’re going to get at it.”
Each session is comprised of various scenarios from tracking suspects to narcotics detection. All situations that a K-9 officer and its handler can be called into at a moment’s notice.
“They [K-9 Officers] are normally the ones that are in front of us and are first in line, first in the building, first in the woods,” says Lt Herzog. “They know what we expect of them, and they are able to perform those duties adequately for us to keep us safe on the streets.”
Keeping people safe is the main objective of the K-9 officers and their handlers. The goal of the training is to teach K-9s and their handles to take what’s learned and put it to good use when a call is made.
“After 7 years it still sometimes amazes me. Especially when you put everything that you practice into play on the street, and they have a successful find.”
In case you’re wondering, these K-9 officers live with their handlers. Lt. Herzog says, when the workday is done, these 4-legged officers enjoy unwinding by doing what dogs do best.
“These dogs will go home, and they just want to lay on the couch or play fetch with their favorite people like any other dog.”