Safety is important for all Alaska State Troopers including those with four legs.
Trooper K9 Scout, based in Soldotna and serving the Kenai Peninsula, recently received a stab and bullet protective vest from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s Inc.
Two-year-old Scout is a Belgium Malinois, a shepherd breed commonly used law enforcement. Scout is a multi-purpose K9 trooper; he is trained in handler protection, building searches and criminal apprehension. His training also includes narcotics detection for marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, trooper spokesperson Megan Peters wrote in an email.
Trooper K9s only wear the vests when their handler thinks it’s necessary. The vest will be utilized when Scout is called to a manhunts or Special Emergency Response Team situations, Peters said.
“Even though he has a vest now he’s only going to use it in high risk situations,” she said. “It’s not going to be something he’s going to wear every single time he’s on patrol.”
Two assets dogs have when trying to apprehend a violent person is their mobility and speed. The heavy vests restrict those advantages. Peters said K9 troopers can search buildings more quickly and thoroughly than regular troopers as well as track lost people and fleeing criminals.
She said troopers will not call on a trooper K9 if they know a suspect is armed.
“A suspect with a gun is not the dog’s problem to deal with; it is the K9 handler’s problem,” Peters wrote in an email.
K9 handlers are required to meet the same firearms qualifications and physical standards as SERT troopers, she said.
Trooper Tim Wolff is Scout’s handler. The two live and work together. Wolff and Scout attended 10 weeks of training to work together. Upon completing the training, the team passed a patrol and drug certification test, Peters said.
Scout occasionally works with another Kenai Peninsula K9 trooper named Anchor, Peters said, but the two dogs usually work different shifts.
Peters said troopers have 10 certified K9 teams throughout the state.
“When a citizen needs help, they call a trooper,” Peters wrote. “When a trooper needs help, they call a K9 trooper.”
Vested Interest in K9s Inc.’s mission is to provide the vests to law enforcement dogs throughout the U.S. The Massachusetts-based non-profit has provided more than 425 dogs with vests since it was founded in 2009. One bullet and stab protective vest costs $950, according to a press release from the organization.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at email@example.com.