These aren’t your average house dogs.
K-9 units are a specialized group of service dogs used to sniff out crime. These four-legged officers are highly trained to assist in criminal investigations and serve as a vital part of any law enforcement office.
They are among the most loyal officers on any police force. Sgt. Daniel Talley and Deputy Chris Isom with the Bossier Sheriff’s Office get to work with man’s best friend every day.
Talley works with Spike, a four-year-old Dutch Shepherd, and Isom is paired with Arco, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois. Both dogs know it’s time to go to work as soon as the uniform goes on.
Talley said being a K-9 officer is the furthest thing he ever thought he would do, but it has been his most rewarding job yet.
“There’s a special bond there,” Talley said. “We get to go to work with our best friend in the back seat.”
Working with K-9s means ongoing training for both the handler and the dog. The dogs are trained to perform various tasks, such as narcotic recognition, tracking, bite work, and obedience.
Being a handler requires dedication, a firm yet gentle touch, and the responsibility of caring for these specially trained animals. Isom said they are constantly training, not only as a group but on their own time, too.
“They may only get called out once every few weeks, but we want them to be ready and know they can handle it,” Isom said. “We want a dog that works and they will work to impress us. They will do whatever it takes to keep us and the officers around us safe.”
It’s critical for the officer and canine to build a relationship in order to be an effective team.
“The dogs mimic the handlers,” Talley said. “They are high performance animals and we have to keep up with them just as much as they have to keep us with us.”
To forge a bond between dog and handler, the police dog usually lives with his officer’s family. Spike joins Talley’s two other dogs at home. However, he isn’t domesticated.
“These dogs are very well taken care of, but that doesn’t mean he goes home and sleeps in the same bed with me,” Talley said. “They have a high protein diet and they don’t get table scraps. If anything happens to them, it’s on us.”
That also goes for patrol duty. If you’re itching to pet one of these dogs, it may be in your best interest to proceed with caution.
“They are unpredictable so always ask the handler first,” Isom explained. “Some will let you pet them. Others are territorial and protective of their handler. If they bite, it’s going to be bad.”
The K-9s are dual purpose, serving on patrol and in search operations. Last year, Arco solved a string of vehicle burglaries in the Benton area.
The day after returning from training, Arco and Isom were dispatched to a north Bossier neighborhood after a resident called the Bossier Sheriff’s Office to report a vehicle burglary. It didn’t take long before Arco was on the trail.
Isom showed Arco a footprint, and the hunt was on from there. Arco tracked some 400 yards before arriving at a residence. Bossier Sheriff’s detectives then obtained a search warrant for a mobile home close to where Arco led them. The quick action of Arco and his handler aided detectives in solving seven vehicle burglaries. T
he Bossier Sheriff’s detectives recovered a stolen handgun and rifle, several boxes of ammunition, two laptop computers, debit cards, several purses and wallets containing personal information, headphones, cash, marijuana, and a scale. An investigation resulted in several arrests in the case.
Most K-9 officers will tell you there’s great satisfaction knowing they are part of an elite group. These dogs are needed and respected by their handlers and the law enforcement community.
No matter the call, these K-9s are always ready to take a bite out of crime.