Global police dogs in Bay Area for training

June 3, 2009 6:48:01 PM PDT
In Alameda County, police dogs are going through the latest training techniques. The canines are becoming irreplaceable as a law enforcement tool against criminals and terrorists.

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About 60 police dogs and their handlers are going through the three day training exercises hosted by the Alameda County Sheriff's office. They include canine units from outside the state and four foreign countries.

Two canine officers came from the Philippines to learn the newest training techniques. They say that since Sept. 11, 2001, police dogs have become an important weapon in their war against terror.

"We started with the Philippine Coast Guard with four, after that, it ballooned to 100 dogs," Philippine canine instructor Churchill Gomez said.

It is the same in the United States.

"Agencies that maybe once had two dogs or three dogs now have four or five, maybe six dogs; so the need is there," Sergeant Gerald Verbeck of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department said.

Officer Dale Leppke barks his commands in Dutch because his dog Duke was trained in Belgium. Leppke is a canine officer in Dinuba, 30 miles from Fresno. Even in his small town of 22,000, there is a canine unit.

"We do a lot of searching, area searching, stuff like that for suspects hiding in fields and things of that nature," Leppke said.

The training is rigorous; all the simulations are from real life situations.

"So this is the time to test it, to see how they're going to react, to see if the dogs are capable of doing it," Sergeant J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff's Department said.

Later this week, the handlers will witness a live explosion. Most of them have never seen one before -- that is a testimonial to their dogs which have always been able to sniff out bombs before they explode.

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