KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee is helping police officers learn more about canine crime fighters.
UT’s Law Enforcement Satellite Academy of Tennessee and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office are co-producing a video training program called “Police Use of K-9s.”
Sherry Riley, who directed the project through UT’s Center for Telecommunications and Video, said the program documents the dogs’ training experience, from last fall to its recent completion.
The video shows trainers taking the animals through building searches, obstacle courses, and exercises that test strength, agility and obedience.
It will be broadcast this spring via satellite to more than 3,000 academy members at law enforcement agencies in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, Riley said.
“We have seen the recruit dogs in every facet of the training they undergo,” Riley said. “The program will give police agencies ideas about what it takes to train a dog and keep it trained.”
Raymond McElyea, dog trainer for the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, helped produce the video. McElyea said it usually takes four to six months to teach dogs and police officers to work together, and some dogs serve up to 10 years.
McElyea said the video can help other police agencies form their own canine force, and also inform them of services available through the Knox County Sheriff’s Department dog patrol.
“Police officers like to chase and catch, but if a bank robber runs into the woods, it’s sometimes better to let the dogs go in first,” McElyea said. “Some smaller agencies do not have canine programs. We want to get the word out that Knox County will go all over East Tennessee if they need our assistance.”