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Video: Local K-9s are certified in large training exercise 

K-9 training Paso Robles

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Deputy John Franklin stands with Jacco, a Belgium Malinois, before they entered a home in search of a suspect during a training exercise on Wednesday, Photo by Heather Young

Paso Robles was site of California Narcotic Canine Association’s latest training

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s K9 Unit hosted a training day yesterday for K9 units from all over California, in conjunction with the California Narcotic Canine Association. K-9 units from around the Central Coast converged at the site of the former Paso Robles Boys School on Airport Road Wednesday. The training and certification exercises began in the morning and ran through the day. Fifty-one K-9 units from Napa Valley to Simi Valley and over the Bakersfield went through scenarios for drug, patrol and explosive dogs. While some of the canines are cross-trained, Association President Scott Blum said, most are trained in a single area.

K9 training Paso Robles

SLO County Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Allen Barger enters a narcotics training scenario with his dog, Jack, a labrador. Photo by Heather Young

Blum, a retired commander from Modesto, started his career with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, and said the association has nearly 1,000 members throughout the state and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Its role, he said, is as an independent agency that certifies the dogs. He said it’s important to have the units certified by someone not affiliated with the K-9’s unit so that there is no conflict of interest and so there are no problems in court. Blum said that if there was a certifier at the training from SLO County, he or she would not certify units from the county.

In addition to established K-9 units being certified, Blum said that new ones also get certified at the same training. On Wednesday, two new units were certified.

“We’re training the handlers as much as the dogs,” he said, adding that one of the most important roles of the handler is to recognize what the dog is trying to tell him or her. “Handlers have to recognize what the dogs are doing. It’s an education for the handlers and the dogs.”

Part of the training was for the dogs to find different things by smell alone depending on what category they’re being certified in. For patrol, the dogs must find a suspect in a house. For drugs, they must locate narcotics — marijuana, heroine, cocaine and methamphetamine. For explosives they must find different explosives. The handlers do not know where the objects are located as not to lead the dog. Some of the scenarios include distractions to see if that dog can continue to work without going off course. Once the dog finds the objective, the handler gives the dog a toy as a reward.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's K9 "Jacco" and his handler Deputy John Franklin shout commands to the "suspect" that's been located inside a home. Photo courtesy of SLO County Sheriff.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s K9 “Jacco” and his handler Deputy John Franklin shout commands to the “suspect” that’s been located inside a home. Photo courtesy of SLO County Sheriff.


“The timing of the reward is what’s important,” SLO County Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Allen Barger said.

Canine law enforcement officers, Blum said, are very important to the agencies because the dogs are able to find objects much faster than their human counterparts. SLO County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Tony Cipolla said that since Ian Parkinson was elected sheriff in 2010, he has increased the Sheriff’s K-9 program from one to six dogs. The county has dogs that are trained only in narcotics, some only in patrol and some in trained in both. “But the Sheriff is looking to get a dog trained in explosives,” Cipolla said.

SLO County Sherrif’s Deputy John Franklin said just announcing to a suspect that a canine will be released results in most suspects surrendering.




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