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Chief’s Message, November 2013: A Look Inside the K9 Unit

Meet K9 Sgt. Eddie Cameron and public service dog Nacho in this month’s video message

SALT LAKE CITY — This month’s Chief’s Message features a conversation between Deputy Chief Lee Dobrowolski and Sgt. Eddie Cameron, whose K9 Unit ranked second overall at the Las Vegas Metro K9 Trial held in October.

Two SLCPD K9 teams competed in the competition, which included as many as 60 teams from 30 agencies. “So that’s just a good measuring stick to show where we’re at and how we’re doing compared to the rest of the K9 world,” Cameron said.

SLCPD’s K9 Unit has seven dogs — a mix of Bloodhounds, Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds — that are assigned to Cameron and the six other officers in his squad. The nose of a public service dog, Cameron explained in the video, provides a safe way to search for suspects in a contained area or building. “Twenty or 30 feet before they get to the person, we [a K9 team] can see that they’re there, whereas an officer would actually have to walk right up, open the closet, stick their head in with their flashlight before they could see the person was there.”

Cameron and his dog Nacho continually train, using games and positive reinforcement to bond. The goal, he explained, is not a vicious dog, but one that follows a handler’s commands.

“The kind of dogs that we try to get have a disposition where they don’t look at people as prey, because we don’t want that type of dog,” Cameron said, noting that the goal is compliance short of a bite. However, subjects who have committed a violent crime or a felony and are continuing to flee or resist may meet the business end of a public service dog.

Interesting K9 facts:

  • The average public service dog weighs 70-95 pounds.
  • Each dog costs approximately $5,000-$7,000 to acquire.
  • Dogs serve about eight years, then they typically retire to their handler’s home.
  • Injuring or killing a public service dog is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

About the “Chief’s Message”

Chief Burbank issues a monthly video message to help the public reduce its exposure to, or mitigate the effects of, crime, as well as spotlight different parts of the city’s public safety team. All “Chief’s Messages” are archived on the newsroom page of www.slcpd.com and the “Chief’s Message” playlist of www.youtube.com/saltlakecitypolice. To recommend a topic to Chief Burbank, please send an email to: askthechief@slcgov.com

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