TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - They're furry, have four legs and they protect and serve our community every day. Now, we're taking an inside look at how police K-9s are utilized to crack down on crime.
This week we headed to the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds where dogs and their officer handlers undergo training to serve and protect.
"Sheriff's Department K-9! Speak to me now or I'm sending the dog. You will be bitten! "
Those words, spoken by Tippecanoe County Community Corrections (T.C.C.C.) Surveillance K-9 handler Jim Knogge, are what suspected criminals hear when they're being pursued by police with a K-9 officer.
K-9 officers from all law enforcement departments in Tippecanoe County met Wednesday at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds for training.
The dogs and their handlers practiced real-world situations such as drug searches.
"What I have here is 28 grams of meth and 116 grams of marijuana," Knogge said. "The dogs are trained to sit when they alert to the narcotic odor."
They're also trained for explosive identification and suspect apprehension.
The dogs are trained to attack in several different scenarios, such as when the handler is attacked or when violent suspects run away.
These dogs aren't your average, everyday pooches. Costing more than $12,000 per pup, many of them come from Holland, trained and ready to respond to commands in Dutch such as sit, stay and attack.
"We even have hand signals for the dogs," West Lafayette Police Department (WLPD) K-9 Officer Jeff Dunscomb said. "A majority of our dogs are trained in hand signals. So if we're a distance away and we want them to lay down and stop and stay, we have hand signals for that."
Their job includes bomb, drug and suspect searches. Many of the dogs are considered multi-purpose and are trained to do several duties, duties considered games to the dog – a game for the most sought-after prize.
The tennis ball.
"Just that interest in that tennis ball, that's almost to the point of a psychotic level," Tippecanoe County Sheriff's K-9 Deputy Jon Lendermon said. "They just act crazy over the tennis ball."
That's why it's their big reward for doing their job.
K-9s are vital to the operation and are considered one of the boys. In fact, assaulting a K-9 is just as serious as assaulting a law enforcement official.
"Battering a police K-9, it's a misdemeanor. It's almost the same as battering a police officer," Lafayette Police Department (LPD) K-9 Officer Ryan French said.
Sure, they're intimidating from bark to bite, but they all have their sweet side and even go home with their handlers to their families.
Bad guys beware. Dogs may get fleas, but try to flee from these guys and you're going down.
KK Houser hit three of four free throws in the final 11 seconds and scored 17 points as No. 18 Purdue escaped with a 49-45 win a Green Bay Wednesday night.
For so much of the night, just about everything was going wrong for the Miami Heat. They were missing every 3-pointer, arguing plenty of calls, even screaming at one another.
A Lafayette man and his mobile manger was back outside the Tippecanoe County Courthouse for the 15th year.