K9 dog units play a vital role in the police service, and are particularly crucial in the City of Cape Town’s crackdown on drugs and firearms.

Eleven new dogs have been introduced to the City’s Metro Police Department, bringing their K9 officers up to a total of 22 dogs. They have received specialised training focusing on narcotics detection, explosives and tracking.

The new recruits include seven Dutch shepherds, two pointer German shepherds and two bloodhounds.

The K9 unit will specialise in the following areas:

– Khalesi, Kelev, Kai are Dutch shepherds focusing on narcotics detection.

– Khaos, Kink, Kiana and Kiara are Dutch shepherds focusing on explosives detection.

– The pointer German shepherds, Hercules and Geoff, along with bloodhounds, Zorro and Putin, are tracking specialists.

JP Smith meets the new K9 officers.

“Our dogs are crucial to the Metro Police Department’s success. They literally sniff out drugs, guns and other contraband on a near daily basis. More than that, they also tend to steal the show at our social crime prevention program where the dogs and their handlers show off their skills to hundreds of children and help us foster a positive relationship with communities, which is critical to the fight against crime,” said JP Smith, the City’s Mayco member for Safety, Security and Social Services.

Six of the 11 new recruits are already active in the field, and have been assigned to their new handlers. The rest are currently awaiting the finalisation of their handlers’ appointments, as they will need to be paired and train together.

The new K9 must undergo specialized training in narcotics, tracking and explosives.

“The relationship between a canine and its handler is a very important element of their success as a pairing. They need to develop a bond through trust and understanding,” Smith added. “It is the very essence of the buddy cop genre that so many of us grew up watching and explains why all of our recent retirees were adopted by their handlers. We are very excited by the arrival of the new recruits and I have no doubt that they’ll be furry good at their jobs.”

In the last quarter, the K9 Unit aided in the arrest of a total of 64 suspects – 31 of which are drug-related arrests, while 13 are firearm-related.

The city’s very first Metro K9 Unit was introduced in 2009. The first 11 handlers and their canine partners were trained in narcotics detection by December of that year, with six more handlers completing their training just before the FIFA World Cup 2010 kicked off.

Further acquisitions were made in 2013, and five dogs were bred in 2015. The age and overall health of canines determines when they are retired from active duty, in consultation with veterinarians.

Pictures: City of Cape Town


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Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.