The City of Cape Town’s Metro Police Department is 11 canine officers richer following the acquisition and training of the new recruits. The canines have received specialised training, with some doing narcotics detection, others focusing on explosives and a few trained in the art of tracking.
The newly recruited dogs have replaced eight others who retired to their handlers’ homes a few months ago. Their arrival brings to 22 the number of four-legged K9 officers in the unit.
The new recruits comprise seven Dutch shepherds, two pointer German shepherds and two bloodhounds. The pointer German shepherds, Hercules and Geoff, along with bloodhounds, Zorro and Putin, are tracking specialists.
‘Our dogs are crucial to the Metro Police Department’s success. They literally sniff out drugs, guns and other contraband on a near daily basis. More than that, they also tend to steal the show at our social crime prevention programmes where the dogs and their handlers show off their skills to hundreds of children and help us foster a positive relationship with communities, which is critical to the fight against crime,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
‘Six of the new recruits have already been assigned to their handlers and are on active duty. The rest are waiting for the finalisation of their handlers’ appointments so that they can be paired and train together. The relationship between a canine and its handler is a very important element of their success as a pairing. They need to develop a bond through trust and understanding. It is the very essence of the buddy cop genre that so many of us grew up watching and explains why all of our recent retirees were adopted by their handlers. We are very excited by the arrival of the new recruits and I have no doubt that they’ll be furry good at their jobs,’ added Alderman Smith.
In the last quarter (April – July), the K9 Unit arrested 64 suspects – 31 of which were drug-related arrests and 13 were firearm-related arrests.
The Metro Police K9 Unit was established in 2009. The first 11 handlers and their canine partners were trained in narcotics detection by December of that year. In June 2010, just before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, six more handlers and canines completed their training – four in patrol duties and two specialising in the detection of explosives. Further acquisitions were made in 2013 and five dogs were bred in 2015. The age and overall health of canines determines when they are retired from active duty, in consultation with veterinarians.