Warren ready to welcome new pack of police dogs

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published January 23, 2018

 Kantor is one of four dogs that will train for duty with the Warren Police Department at the U.S. Border Patrol’s facility in Virginia. Officials said Warren’s four dogs and their respective handlers will be ready to begin patrol work in April.

Kantor is one of four dogs that will train for duty with the Warren Police Department at the U.S. Border Patrol’s facility in Virginia. Officials said Warren’s four dogs and their respective handlers will be ready to begin patrol work in April.

Photo provided by the Warren Police Department

WARREN — A group of four Warren police officers picked for duty as the department’s new team of K-9 handlers will begin training with the U.S. Border Patrol next month ahead of a planned deployment in April. 

“They’re actually just being transferred from their patrol positions to our training on Friday (Jan. 19),” Warren Police Capt. Robert Ahrens said last week. “It’s basically two weeks of prep and making sure all of their equipment is ready.”

Ahrens said the handlers — picked from a field of 50 applicants within the department and a group later narrowed to 18 — are all “excellent” officers. Their soon-to-be canine partners are also reportedly the “cream of the crop” from a batch of dogs brought by European breeders to the Border Patrol’s training facility in Front Royal, Virginia.

“This has all been able to happen because we have a close partnership with the Border Patrol. The head of the Border Patrol training headquarters helped in the selection of the dogs,” Ahrens said. “These vendors, they go to this training facility and the dogs are evaluated and graded. They brought in 20 dogs. We got the top-four ranked dogs in this group.”

Of the four dogs selected to join the Warren Police Department’s K-9 Unit, “Rita” and “Betty” reportedly scored “off the charts.” They were followed at the top of the list by “Alfa” and “Kantor.” All of the names were given to the dogs by the breeder. The dogs are Belgian Malinois or shepherd mixes, making them very receptive to training and less likely to bite.  

The dogs have been working with Border Patrol trainers since the first of the year and will continue to do so through mid-February, meaning they’ll have about six weeks of training completed before they meet their human partners. Likewise, Warren’s team of officers will train for a few weeks in Virginia before they meet the dogs, covering all aspects of K-9 law enforcement including dog psychology and drive characteristics, care and maintenance, first aid and case law.

Once they return to Warren, the K-9 teams will be deployed on regular 12-hour shifts. With four teams, the goal is to have a dog available on every shift, every day, unless they are in continued training. 

Warren’s first four dogs will be trained in narcotics detection, tracking and evidence location. Additional tracker training is already planned for the teams. As the program evolves, the city may add another dog or two, possibly including one trained to detect explosives. 

Police dogs typically begin service when they are a year and a half old and have an active service life of about 10 years. Police handlers are full-time companions with their assigned animals. The dogs live at home with their handler and his or her family, and usually remain with the family when they leave police service. 

Officer Jeremy Kenyon joined the Warren Police Department after about 10 years with the Border Patrol, and he continues to work as a K-9 instructor. He was one of the four officers selected to work as a handler for the returning Warren Police K-9 Unit.

“It’s the best feeling in the world. You’ve got a partner that loves you unconditionally,” Kenyon said. “He’s part of your family. They’re your best friend.”

For law enforcement work, Kenyon spoke highly of the dogs and their effectiveness.

“It’s all drive-based. Everything is genetic,” Kenyon said. “It’s the best tool you can have.”

Warren officials are confident the K-9 program will eventually pay for itself through narcotics-related seizures.

The City Council approved an appropriation of $102,775 Nov. 28 to create the program and to outfit four previously purchased Ford Explorers for K-9 use. 

Call Staff Writer Brian Louwers at (586) 498-1089.