Solidarity: Police and K9 Companions
Technology has made incredible strides in the 21st century and has aided in the prevention, apprehension, and conviction of many offenders. However, these expensive resources require specially trained personnel to operate in an already, often understaffed, police force (Griffiths, 2008, p. 98). Although, policing techniques have adapted to the ever changing nature of crime, offenders have adopted new ways of concealing their misconduct. How should law enforcement agencies respond to this? Do laws need to be stricter? Do police need more funding? Currently, the answer is not in the future, but in the past.
Man and beast once fought in a constant struggle for dominance. Once an enemy, now a companion, the trained dog has proven to be an effective resource for police departments (Mesloh, 2000). This paper will briefly explore the beneficial traits of police dogs and determine if expanding their use will aid in effective policing. First, what types of skills do police dogs have? What training can they undertake? Second, how can their use benefit police departments and society? Third, what are the costs associated with training and maintenance? How can dogs save money?
Dogs possess abilities that are beyond existing technology (Mesloh, 2000). A dogs ability to smell is 50-100 times more powerful than the typical human (Foster & Smith, 2008). This ability is useful in the detection of narcotics, accelerants, bombs, and cadavers (Scoville, 2005). Dogs are also used to trace scents which are useful in aiding police with missing persons’ reports and linking crime scenes to offenders or witnesses. Remarkably, a dog’s sense of smell is so potent that it can trace scents from evidence that has been subject to fire or decay. (Stockham, Slavin, & Kift, 2004).
Mertens (2005) found the following
The remains of a man who was beaten to death, burned in a bonfire and thrown in a swamp, where he remained for six years was solved in 20 minutes by Zarrella and his clever canine. "Using the dogs we were able to reduce the search area and localize a very small area for divers to search," he recalls. "The divers then waded into the water until they were about chest deep, felt around and started finding bones."
The dog also has other uses beyond its tracking ability, such as its effective use as a tool of deterrence and apprehension. Police dogs symbolize the probability of being caught and the futility of fighting with the police (Patrol Division K9 Division). Although, a police officer may be perceived as a rational human being to an offender, a police dog is seemingly unpredictable. Therefore, when given the option to submit to arrest, or deal with the dog, the suspect most often chooses to surrender. A study in 1992 by the Portsmouth Police in New Hampshire found that 27 suspects surrendered from hiding, not because they feared the police officer, but the police dog.
- Quote paper
- Bachelor of Arts Criminology and Psychology Richard Teotico (Author), 2009, Solidarity - Police and K9 Companions, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/230470