The Columbus Division of Police K-9 Unit was established in 1993. In those 27 years, the K-9's have only been deployed 67 times against subjects in a manner that resulted in bites. That mind-boggling statistic was one of many that we learned from our guest speaker, K-9 Officer David Jones, this week at our monthly meeting.
We learned that the Division has a very strict policy about when the K-9's can be deployed. On the use of force scale, with zero being officer presence, and eight being deadly force, a K-9 bite is a level six. To send a dog in for a bite it has to be a serious felony or a misdemeanor crime of violence. Officer Jones, for example, would send K-9 Ayko in on a running domestic violence suspect who refused to surrender. (Ayko is trained to recognize the signs of surrender and move into a different mode.)
All of the Division's K-9's are trained locally by Gold Shield K-9. The trainer handpicks them from Holland and spends five weeks in one-on-one training with each animal. The police officer then comes and spends five weeks of individual training with their K-9. The total cost to train each K-9 is $15,000, and all of Columbus's dogs are dual purpose; they're able to locate narcotics and apprehend criminals.
These dogs are amazing. Did you know that if you lose your keys in the middle of a field Ayko could find them for you? Or if a bad guy hides a gun under a tree buried in some leaves, Ayko could find it? Well, a certain bad guy in Columbus does because that's exactly what happened. Go, Ayko!
At the end of his presentation, Ofc Jones brought Ayko into Panera to meet us. Ayko was excited because he thought he was going to clear the building, something he does fairly often on the job. Ofc Jones explained to us that the K-9s are smart enough to know the difference between someone who is working or engaging in lawful behavior in a building and someone who is not.
Ofc Jones had Ayko "speak" for us and his bark cuts right through you. This Belgian Malinois is not like your friendly Labrador. We completely understand why suspects would choose to surrender and why Ayko has never bitten anyone in the line of duty.
However enthralled we were with him, poor Ayko quickly grew bored with us. He thought he was going to get to work, but all he got was lots of admiration from some timid strangers, most of whom were afraid to pet him. Those of us who did were happy to get away with it once. He was such a good boy, though. Very, very well behaved. And he clearly loves to work: Ofc Jones says when they get packages at home, even if they're just from Amazon, Ayko excitedly waits to "clear" all of them.
Ofc Jones talked to us about the strong personalities of the dogs. He explained that Ayko has mellowed considerably as he's gotten older, and that some of the dogs--such a K-9 Carr--can be taken into schools and loved on by the kids. Whereas others, such as K-9 Elvis, can't even be petted by the other K-9 officers (although Ofc Jones is working on him).
When we announced that Ofc Jones was going to be our guest speaker, we said that he was one of the most well-respected members of the Division. We were not exaggerating. Deputy Chief Timothy Becker, who worked with Ofc Jones earlier in their careers, asked if he could introduce him at our meeting. This is the level of respect that this wonderful K-9 officer engenders.
One of the many reasons that Ofc Jones is so beloved is that he helps organize the Ohio Law Enforcement Torch Run to benefit Special Olympics. Please check out their website, and make sure you're on our Starfish mailing list so that we can notify you when we put out the word for volunteers to support this event.