Photo/Story Gallery 2006

Meet the Newest K-9 Graduates

New K9sIn December of 1983, the Florida Highway Patrol established the Canine Section. Each trooper and his canine are trained in all aspects of canine work which includes obedience, attack, tracking, and drugs. The primary use of these units is the detection of illegal drugs. These troopers are assigned throughout the state to patrol the interstate system and other highways in order to interdict drug couriers and other criminal activity. On November 15, 2006, three new members joined the ranks when they graduated in West Palm Beach.

Trooper Boody has been serving with the Florida Highway Patrol since February 2001. Prior to FHP, he was a Police Officer for the city of Ft. Lauderdale. Tpr. Boody handles Leroy, an 18 month-old German Shepherd and they are currently assigned to Troop-K, Broward County.

Trooper Hitchcock has been serving with the Florida Highway Patrol since January 2003. Prior to FHP, he was a Police Officer for the city of Mount Dora in Lake County, Florida. Tpr. Hitchcock handles Eros, a 2 year-old German Shepherd and they are currently assigned to Troop-D, Brevard County.

Trooper Schweinsberg has been serving with the Florida Highway Patrol since November 2002. Trooper Schweinsberg was elected Class President and was the recipient of the Executive Director’s Award for the 103rd Basic Recruit Class. K-9 “Frenzy” is a two-year old German Shepherd and they are assigned to Volusia County.

Additional Photos

K9 Eros alerting to the narcotic by sitting.
K9 Eros alerts to the narcotic by sitting.

K9 Frenzy alerting to the narcotic by scratching.
K9 Frenzy alerts to the narcotic by scratching.

Tpr. Van Leer preparing a hide in the side marker light of the trailer.
Tpr. Van Leer prepares a hide in the side marker light of the trailer.

K9 Leroy alerts to the hide.
K9 Leroy alerts to the hide.

K9 Leroy alerts to the narcotic concealed inside the floor of the trailer.
K9 Leroy alerts to the narcotic concealed inside the floor of the trailer.

Trooper Michael R. Van Leer & K-9's Goose and MaverickInstructor Background

Trooper Mike Van Leer became a State Certified Canine Instructor for the Florida Highway Patrol In 1993. He then became the first and only current State Certified Evaluator for the Florida Highway Patrol in 1996. He is the first canine trainer/evaluator In the State of Florida qualified to teach and certify narcotic detection canines under a national program, the International Forensic Research Institute at Florida International University.

As a canine instructor/evaluator, Trooper Van Leer has trained over 65 police canine teams in the areas of narcotic detection, tracking and patrol dog work. He has trained teams for other police agencies as well as the Florida Highway Patrol. Trooper Van Leer has over 2,000 academic hours in the training of Police Work Dogs.

Trooper Van Leer and his K-9 partners Goose and Maverick are assigned to Troop K, West Palm Beach.


More about the K-9’s and their training


Aspects of Training

During the 480 hour course, the handlers, along with their canine partners, were instructed in the following areas and were taught tracking, evidence recovery, building searches, area searches, and aggression work.

THEORY OF SCENT:
Knowledge of the performance capabilities of a trained detector dog and applying the principles of detector dog training in training his/her dog.

PHARMACOLOGY:
Knowledge of odor thresholds, U.S. Currency contamination, and diffusion and density rates of drugs.

LEGAL ASPECTS:
Knowledge of federal and state laws and Florida Constitutional Amendments applicable to search and seizure, as well as case law supporting probable cause and use of the narcotic detector canine.

RECORD KEEPING/PROFICIENCY TRAINING:
Knowledge of the proper procedures for keeping his/her canine proficient and be familiar with documenting the use of canine with the use of training records.

COURTROOM PROCEDURE:
Knowledge of providing testimony for depositions and courtroom, as well as of questions and terminology which is commonly related to the use of narcotic detector canines.

FIRST AID FOR POISON AND OVERDOSE:
Knowledge of the affect of accidental poisoning and the methods of treatment, including the administrating of the drug antidote.

NARCOTICS AND SMUGGLING:
Knowledge of the general appearance of: Marijuana, Cocaine HCL, Cocaine Base, Heroin, Hashish and Methamphetamine. Knowledge of general trafficking patterns, methods of hidden compartments, ability to identify common smuggling containers. Able to understand how his/her performance relates to other officers in the overallenforcement effort.

FIELD APPLICATION FOR MULTIPLE SCENT INTRODUCTION:
Canines are instructed to detect and alert to Marijuana, Cocaine HCL, Cocaine Base, Heroin, Hashish and Methamphetamine in a variety of locations in conveyances, vessels and building structures. The K-9 alerts are in the form of aggressive (scratching) or passive (sitting).

EXAMINATION:
The handlers must pass a written examination covering all aspects of training of a narcotic detector canine, legal aspects, record keeping, courtroom procedures, narcotic trafficking patterns, hidden compartments and concealment, proper searching techniques and emergency care for his/her canine.

PRACTICAL EXAMINATION:
The canine team will be tested and pass a practical detector dog examination as set forth in the guidelines of the Florida Highway Patrol and the National Forensic Institute and the Standards set forth by the United States Customs Narcotic Detection Dog Manual.

The canine teams in this class have been certified under the standards set forth by the Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy and the National Forensic Institute Florida International University.


Patrol Dog School

AGILITY OBEDIENCE TEAMWORK
AGILITY – OBEDIENCE – TEAMWORK

k9 running at attacker k9 attacking k9 biting
BITE WORK


Detector Dog School

trainer pointing to fence dog standing against the fence as the trainer points dog jumping on fence dog running toward the fence dog aggressively jumping at fence
SEEK

dog sits when alerting to contraband in luggage
Passive Alert (Sit)

dog sits when alerting to buried contraband

dog scratches when alerting to contraband in luggage
Aggressive Alert (Scratch)

dog scratches when alerting to buried contraband


Reward

K9 scratches and finds his reward k9 displays his reward
The K-9 scratches and finds his reward.


Vehicle Search

K9 aggressively alerts to the vehicle K9 passively alerts to the vehicle
The K-9 aggressively and passively alerts to contraband in the vehicle


Building Search

K9 scratches at the floor K9 scratches at a file cabinet
The K-9 alerts to contraband in the building floor and wall.


Did you Know?

Principles of Training
There are five basic principles, which apply to most kinds of dog training. To be successful, the handler must thoroughly understand the principles and how they apply to narcotic training.

Mechanics of Training
Dog handlers work with their dogs on a daily basis, as their partners in law enforcement. The average person has to know ”how” to make their dog perform. A student of the FHP Narcotic Detection Academy must know the ”whys” and be able to explain them.

Aspects of Training
A dog’s ability to grasp ideas is like that of a child who has not yet learned to speak and understand the spoken word. If we want a child to look up, we wave a rattle above the child’s head to create a response. A dog does not have a mental process to work out cause and affect. Therefore, the student must look for and develop the dog’s natural disposition and limited intelligence during training.

Tools of Training

    • Towels: (washed, folded, taped) There were 4,440 towels used during the Narcotic Academy. These towels were folded, rolled and taped.

    • Yards of String: 6,600 yards of string were used to tie the Reward (towel) in with the narcotic source.

    • Yards of Tape: 480 yards of tape were used to roll the towels.

    • Number of Loads of Laundry: there were 88 loads of towels washed during the Academy.

    • Number of Hides: there were 2,250 narcotic hides in vehicles, buildings, buses and in practical field exercises during the Academy.

    • Number of Narcotic Searches: there were 2,250 searches conducted by the canines during the Academy.


The Police Dog

K9 Patch

K9 PatchMy eyes are your eyes
To watch and protect you and yours.

My ears are your ears
To hear and detect evil minds in the dark.

My nose is your nose
To scent the invader in your domain.

And so you may live
My life is also yours.


Police Canine Prayer

Oh, almighty God, whose great power and eternal wisdom embraces the universe, watch over my handler while I sleep.

Protect my handler from harm while I am unable to do so.

I pray, help keep our streets and homes safe while my handler and I rest.

I ask for your loving care because my handler’s duty is dangerous.

Grant my handler your unending strength and courage in our daily assignments.

Dear God, protect my brave handler, grant your almighty protection, unite my handler safely with the family after the tour of duty has ended.

I ask nothing for myself

Amen