Special Operations Bureau
Lt. Josh Scharman
Lt. Lamar Ewell
Lt. Dave Askerlund
The Special Operations Bureau contains a number of specialty functions to address community needs and support the many functions of a police agency. The Special Operations Bureau is commanded by a Deputy Chief and two Lieutenants with responsibility for the following squads.
The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team is comprised of many well-trained police officers with the mission to save lives. Their training is based on saving the lives of the citizens in our community whose security is threatened and the lives of law enforcement personnel who become faced with unusually hazardous situations. The team trains regularly in an effort to perfect their weapons skills, their tactics to resolve the high hazard incidents and their physical fitness level.
Deployment Situations include but are not limited to:
• High hazard search and arrest warrants
• Barricaded suspects
• Hostage situations
• Dignitary protection
• Any mission requiring a tactical team effort. (Search and rescue, manhunts, etc.)
- Motorcycle Squad
Motors consists of many well-trained motorcycle riders who are responsible for traffic enforcement throughout the City. The motorcycle squad utilizes BMW and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which enable the officers to move freely through congested traffic and more effectively accomplish their mission.
The squad trains on a regular basis so the officers can maintain their skills and their safety while working in highly-congested areas as well as all of the special functions they work throughout the year.
The unit deploys City-wide to address major traffic concerns, and it responds to citizen complaints in neighborhoods. Motors officers educate the public about safe driving while enforcing the laws.
The squad works many special events during the year, including parades, funerals, sporting events, runs, and more. The squad is mostly known for its precision riding during the 24th of July parade, which is attended by thousands of community members.
The Salt Lake City Police Department K9 Unit was established in 1958 and, although the unit was dissolved for a short period, the squad continues to be an enormous support function for Salt Lake City and the employees of the police department.
The police department has seven K9 teams made up of an officer teamed with a police service dog, either a German shepherd or a Bloodhound. The shepherd teams are best known for their abilities in apprehending criminals who attack or flee from officers and their ability to sniff drugs. The Bloodhounds are best known for their ability to track suspects and lost children.
K9 Squad FAQ
Where do the Police Service Dogs live?
Once selected, a new police service dog is assigned to a K9 officer. Not only does the dog become an important member of our “police family,” but it also becomes a very important member of the officer’s family. When not at work our dogs spend time with their families but they always have access to a quiet area where they can get plenty of rest.
Do the K9 Teams visit schools and other social gatherings?
Yes, they do visit schools and other community gatherings. They are not available for birthday parties or other private functions. Please call (801) 799-3400 to arrange a visit.
Can I support the SLCPD K9 Unit?
Yes. The K9 Unit operates on a very tight budget. Our dogs are fed high-quality food and they receive the best veterinary care. Our budgetary limitations, however, make it difficult for us to attend training events and K9 competitions. Our officers feel strongly that by keeping their police service dogs on the cutting edge of proficiency, they are keeping them, other officers and the public safe. If you would like to invest in the safety of our dogs and in the effectiveness of their work, donations can be made to:
SLCPD K9 Unit
c/o SLCPD PMAA
475 South 300 East
PO Box 145497
SLC, Utah 84114-5497
Can I touch/pet the police service dogs?
Like any police service dog, you must ask the handler if you can touch the K9 before you do. Police service dogs are trained to protect themselves and their handlers, so it is important that the handler introduce you to his or her dog properly.
Do the K9s like to bite?
The K9s only bite when absolutely necessary to protect themselves, their handlers, another officer, a citizen or when they need to capture a fleeing felony suspect. Most often, when faced with a confrontation with a police dog, criminal suspects choose to surrender. When our dogs do bite, they are trained to grip and hold the suspect until their handler is able to take over. This results in very minor injury to the suspect. Salt Lake Police K9s are primarily used as search tools. They enjoy hunting for and finding people, articles of evidence and illegal drugs.
What kind of dogs do you use?
We have 2 German Shepherds and 2 Belgian Malinois both are dual-purpose patrol/drug detection dogs. We have 3 Bloodhounds that specializes in tracking, and one Labrador that specializes in drug detection that is assigned to the DEA.
Who trains the dogs?
We train all of our dogs in-house. Officer Cale Lennberg is our head patrol/drug dog instructor. Our dogs are certified by the state of Utah and must pass a proficiency examination annually. Officer Mike Serio is our head bloodhound instructor.
How old are the dogs when they start training?
We normally purchase police dog candidates that are between 18 months and 2½ years old. Dogs can begin their training at a very young age. Our bloodhounds were purchased as puppies. Their training began when they were about 2 months old!
How long are the dogs trained?
Basic training for our dual-purpose patrol and drug detection dogs takes four months of full-time work. Additionally, our dogs receive 2 hours of in-service training during each of their 10 hour shifts.
How old are the dogs when they retire?
Our rule of thumb for retiring police dogs is 7 years of service or 10 years of age. Of course, actual retirement depends on the physical condition of the dog. Going to work every week is the most important thing in the world to each of our dogs. Early retirements are not fair to them unless there is a physical limitation.
Where do they go when they retire?
Our dogs are members of the officer’s family and they retire with that family in every case. If a service dog has worked with more than one officer during its career, the dog normally retires with the last officer that it worked with.
How do officers get selected to become K9 handlers?
K9 officer candidates must pass a rigorous screening process. Several officers compete for each position. We choose our K9 officers from among the most effective officers in the department. Each candidate is then evaluated on many dimensions in order to determine which will be the most effective when paired with a police service dog.
Where does the Salt Lake Police Department get its dogs?
Police dog candidates must possess certain drives, instincts and character traits in order to be considered. Very few dogs pass our screening process. We sometimes import dogs from Europe due to the small numbers of qualified candidates in the United States.
How much do the dogs cost?
The dogs that meet our high standards cost from $5,000–$7,000. Fortunately, when measured in terms of effectiveness and community safety, the payback period on the initial investment is very short!
How is a dog able to smell so well?
A number of things contribute to a dog’s keen sense of smell. Their long snouts have a large turbinate bone structure that holds millions of scent receptor cells, plus the olfactory lobe of their brain is much larger than that of a human being.
Is hurting a police service dog the same as hurting a police officer?
Injuring or killing a police service dog is a 3rd degree felony punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years. We invest considerable resources in our K9 partners and we consider them officers in every sense. They put their lives on the line every day to protect the community and the officers of the Salt Lake City Police Department.
- Safe Streets Task Force
SLCPD gang detectives have partnered with other local agencies and the FBI to provide prevention, intervention, suppression and long-term investigations of gang activity in the Salt Lake Valley. The unit is cross-deputized as federal agents to allow them more avenues of resolution to gang crime.
Safe Streets works with local service providers to offer early intervention to young citizens as they are approached or consider joining a criminal gang. They work in concert with the service providers to predict gang developments in an effort to prevent gang crime. If the crime occurs, the unit members work as a team to investigate the crime and partner with the District Attorney’s Office or the United States Attorney’s Office for resolution.
The unit utilizes numerous methods to accomplish its mission. They work in uniform or undercover, and they rely on strong partnerships with the citizens in the community, school resource officers and all law enforcement partners to gather the information necessary to solve crimes.
Gang Awareness, Prevention and Consequences: What is a gang? Why do kids join? What should a parent look for? What can a parent do? Created by officers of the Salt Lake City Safe Streets Task Force, this presentation answers those questions and more. Click here.
Gang Tips: If you have a crime tip related to gang activity, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.