How are Officers Selected?
Each officer applying for a position in the K-9 unit must have a minimum of two years patrol work experience after probation unless the time is waived by the Chief of Police. They must pass an oral board consisting of current and former handlers and command staff, pass a physical test, and must demonstrate outstanding decision making skills.
How are the Dogs Selected?
Dogs are purchased from breeders or vendors that import dogs specifically for police work. Lynnwood's master handlers screen dogs to find the right match for a new handler. Each dog must undergo a series of tests to determine skill level and scent work ability. The dogs must be self-right, eager to please, and have outstanding scenting ability. Once the dogs are selected they are immediately placed with their handler to begin bonding.
What Areas are the Dogs Trained in?
There are two types of certifications for tracking: Patrol Generalists and Master Handler. Generalist teams must meet obedience, apprehension and tracking standards set forth by the state. A higher set of standards, which far exceed the state requirements, are set for a master handler certification. Currently all four of our K-9 teams have successfully passed the master handler requirements.
Two of our four teams are cross trained in narcotics, specifically in the odors of Heroin, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, and Ecstasy. Our dogs were among the first in the state to exclude marijuana as a trained odor.
Our teams certify yearly which is twice as often as required. They perform this certification in house once a quarter to demonstrate a higher standard. As well, each year they are evaluated by master trainers from other agencies.