Just as DFrost said but I will add some...
Most K9 officers are usually your "best of the best" street patrol officers. These are officers that are VERY proactive, make a LOT of self initiated arrests, not "gimme" arrests like shoplifters, domestic violence, etc. I am referring to occupied stolen vehicles, people with illegal weapons, drugs, stolen property...basically have a natural gift for finding people who are doing wrong, using correct PC and RS, etc. and always staying within departmental policy. They also don't need direction from other officers/supervisors to make decisions. They work well with other officers and are great and directing their coworkers...such as setting up perimeters...how big? How small? How many officers do you have available and at what capacity? Which way is the wind blowing? (for tracking) How hot, cold, or damp is it? These are decisions that must be made in seconds, not minutes, if the bad guy is going to be caught.
You must be able to make rational, firm, correct, and SAFE decisions. You need to be a natural leader and not a "follower" type officer. When you work K9, YOU tell your fellow officers what they need to do and where they need to go. The guy with the dog controls the scene per se if it is a "dog call."
You need to have tactical experience/training as most K9 officers work closely with SWAT. A lot of K9 guys are ex SWAT members.
I would say most K9 officers are those that have been great officers and also FTOs themselves for at least 5-10 years PRIOR to putting in for K9. After all, how can you be an effective K9 officer if you are still learning yourself?? From what I have seen/experienced a police officer is finally comfortable with the job and ANY type of call and how to deal with it at about the 10 years of service. When you are K9, you can't turn to your fellow officer or Sergeant and say, "Well, how should I handle this situation?" It is expected that K9 officers know how to deal with just about every given situation with little to no assistance and direct everyone else where to go and what to do. It's the greatest job in the world...just ask any handler; however, you must put in a lot of time first as a street cop.
Last edited by kam214; 03-11-2012 at 05:52 PM.