In 1979, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) began using trained canines to supplement deputies in remote locations. The LASD K9 unit’s first two dogs were assigned to the resident deputies living alone in Gorman and on Catalina Island. These lone deputies had no other back-up, so the dogs were assigned as their partners. Eventually, more dogs were added as Southern California agencies realized the benefits these canine partners provided.
Today, the LASD Canine Services Detail (CSD) consists of 12 canine teams, along with supervisors and support staff. The Department is responsible for patrolling over 3,000 square miles and 2.5 million people, in both cities and unincorporated areas, and is serviced by 23 stations located throughout the county. The Department patrols these areas of responsibility with approximately 8,000 sworn deputies. The LA County Sheriff canine teams can support our patrol stations by locating both suspects and evidence. The Canine Services Detail generally averages 500 to 600 requests a year. Last year, over 220 high-risk suspects were apprehended with our assistance.
The Canine Services Detail is a centralized Sheriff’s Department support unit assigned to the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB). Currently, SEB consists of three details: The Special Enforcement Detail, or SWAT; the Emergency Services Detail (SWAT Paramedics); and the Canine Services Detail. All three details constantly train together and are jointly deployed on all high-risk operations. There are always at least one or two LA Sheriff canine teams assigned to all SWAT operations, and SWAT operators are frequently used to accompany canine teams on high-risk area searches. All handlers are required to successfully complete a Physical Agility Test semi-annually and to have graduated from an advanced SWAT School. In addition, they must complete a six week basic handler school with their dogs, followed by an additional four to six week intensive in-house training program, prior to the canine being certified for active deployment.
The LASD K9 unit has become one of the country’s leading K9 units versed in tactical K9 Deployments. The CSD teaches a Tactical Canine Deployment Course semi-annually. This course is currently attended by K9 handlers and SWAT operators from police and military units throughout the United States and Canada.
We also pride ourselves on our continuing education program and are always looking for additional training throughout the country. We constantly strive to stay on the cutting edge of the K9 community and enjoy training with as many different K9 units as possible. Our ultimate goal is to provide both our patrol deputies and SWAT operators with a very powerful tool to help locate and safely apprehend the dangerous suspects who are hiding from them.