Certification of Police K9 teams are to show a minimum standard of proficiency of said team. These can include Obedience, Patrol, Trailing, Detection and more. The courts have NOT established that the K9 team must be certified by a nationally recognized organization. Currently, any certification given by a reputable official will be recognized in the courts.
Defense attorneys will do their best to discredit the certification. Therefore certification standards should be on a high level. Don’t get sloppy or accept low standards. It will decrease your proficiency as a team and your credibility in court.
Certifications should be based upon real-life scenarios. On the street, patrol dogs don’t run back and forth across a football field looking for a guy with a sleeve behind a blind. Many national certifications are based upon sport, not real life. Typically they model Schutzhund or something similar.
Many certifications tell the handler up front how many hides are in a certain number of cars, for example. In real life, the handler doesn’t know how many hides or in what number of cars those hides will be in. In most testing, the cars are empty. In real life, the car/s may be occupied.
It is true that many handlers do not appreciate real-life scenarios because they cannot predict the situation or the outcome. But that is exactly the way it works on the street. Real certifications should test the team’s performance in executing what is expected on the street. Decision-making skills and use-of-force decisions should be included in the certification thereby improving the skills of the team, revealing deficiencies that may need more work, and increase the credibility of training.
While we realize that probably no certification standard is perfect, the K9 Unit, team members, and supervisors should seek a certifying agency who adheres to high standards of both training and testing.
At Conifer Canine, we feel we have compiled a strong standard of training and testing that will bear court scrutiny and improve the quality of the team. Furthermore, we offer free annual re-certifications for the teams we train for as long as that team (dog and handler) is in active service.