Police K-9s train for real-life scenarios

2013-09-25T18:00:00Z 2013-09-26T11:54:30Z Police K-9s train for real-life scenariosJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | Gino's not quite 2 years old, but he had his second ride in a helicopter Wednesday.

Gino, a German shepherd, was one of nearly 50 police dogs being put to the test.

His handler, Griffith Police Department Patrolman Robert Gutierrez, said Gino behaved like a trooper.

Riding in a helicopter, being quickly deployed upon landing and beginning a ground search was one of several scenarios the police canines and their handlers participated in as part of the American Police Canine Association 2013 National Convention and Workshop.

The weeklong event is being hosted by the Hobart Police Department. Wednesday's venue for training was the Port of Indiana.

The canine teams also trained in boarding and riding small boats onto Lake Michigan. Many of the teams jumped from the boats and swam to shore. There was also narcotics, aggression and tracking scenarios available.

Teams came from as close as Hobart, Crown Point and Portage to participate and as far as Canada, Florida and North Carolina.

"We want to get the guys out here for real-life scenarios," Hobart Patrolman Ryan Snedecor said. Heo has been teamed with Spike since February. "The more you train for real life, the better you are."

Mike Johnson, president of the APCA, said the event is part recertifying for teams and part working out problems. Officers also receive credit from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy for participating. In addition to field training, they are also spending time in the classroom on every thing from tactics to updates involving legal issues.

The training, Hobart officer Simon Gresser said, allows handlers to put dogs into environments the majority of them have not yet encountered.

"We are putting them in a very stressful environment to see if the dogs have the nerve," Gresser said. "We don't want these handlers to find themselves in a situation where the dog fails and puts the handler in danger." 

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