A properly trained and handled police canine can be an incredible asset within a police department. Police canines provide law enforcement officers with an enhanced search tool that can aid officers in the detection and prevention of crime. The Garland Police K-9 Unit is comprised of two canine teams designed to provide the maximum amount of safety to officers, citizens, and suspects during the investigation of criminal activities. They are especially helpful in the investigation of felony criminal offenses. The proper use of a canine unit has been shown to reduce the number of officer involved shootings as it provides a non-lethal aid for the department.
Public education is another important element of the K-9 Unit. The K-9 officers conduct public demonstrations for schools, civic agencies, and community organizations on a regular basis.
The Garland Police K-9 Unit was officially formed in 1986 by a Federal Grant to help assist in the prevention of building burglaries. The K-9 Unit was started by Officer David Swavey with K-9 Lord and Officer Andy Bell with K-9 Bingo.
Canine Unit Supervisors
Captain Daniel Wortman
Lieutenant Anthony Stokes
Canine Unit Officers
Officer Larry Wilson
Officer Robert McDonald
Functions of the Canine Unit
Tracking and Area Searches: Garland Police Canines are able to track suspects who have fled from police officers or a criminal offense.
Evidence Searches: Garland Police Canines are able to locate articles or contraband discarded by suspects.
Building Searches: Garland Police Canines are used to search buildings that have been burglarized or used in the commission of criminal offenses.
Narcotics Searches: Garland Police Canines are used to find illegal narcotics in buildings or vehicles.
Handler Protection: Garland Police Canines are used to protect officers including the handler from assaults and will react without command if the handlers are assaulted.
Criminal Apprehension: Garland Police Canines are used to apprehend high-risk criminals that pose a threat to officers or citizens providing greater safety to officers, citizens, and the suspect.
Several Garland Police Dogs have been injured while trying to capture felony suspects. Both Lord and Bingo were shot during confrontations with suspects. Both survived and later retired with distinction. K-9 Xanto was stabbed by a suspect hiding in the woods and later died from an infection caused by the wounds. K-9 Blitz also was stabbed while trying to apprehend a suspect breaking into a house. Blitz survived his wounds and continued to work until he was retired. These dogs sustained injuries that were meant for their handlers or other police officers.
General Information about Canine Officers & their Dogs
Garland police canines range in age from 2 to 8 years of age. The dogs are trained as dual purpose police canines. Dual purpose canines are trained in patrol criminal apprehension as well as narcotics detection. The dogs are the 24-hour responsibility of their handlers and stay at home with them when the handlers are not on duty. When on duty the canines are in a special kennel built into the backseat of a squad car. The dogs are generally obtained when they are 2 to 3 years old and work until they are 8 to 10 years old depending upon their physical condition. The dogs are very sociable and enjoy interacting with people. After a police canine is retired he is given to his handler to remain a family dog.
Garland officers must apply to become a canine handler when a position is open. Once selected the handler and his dog go through a 12 to 14 week school together learning the different skills and functions required of a canine team. After completing the canine academy, the canine teams train daily to maintain their level of proficiency.