A Law Enforcement Asset
Sampson, age 7 – that’s 49 in dog years – is the old pro. Moro, age 3, and Khan, age 2, are a bit friskier and just as dedicated to their jobs as Sampson.
At work, they apprehend fleeing criminals, sniff out illegal drugs, detect hidden explosives, track lost kids, and find senior citizens who’ve wandered away from home.
As law enforcement assets and valued members of the Arnold Police Department, Khan, Moro, and Sampson are popular with citizens wherever they go.
That’s just about everywhere in the city – and in other areas when Arnold Police get a call for K-9 assistance from, for example, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office, the Missouri Highway Patrol, or other nearby law enforcement agencies.
“Except for lawbreakers, people always like to see these good-looking and well-trained dogs,” says Arnold Police Lieutenant Brian Carroll, K-9 Unit supervisor.
“They patrol every day with their handlers in marked police cars with a warning sign that says Caution: Police K-9.”
“Khan, Moro, and Sampson are friendly, well-tempered dogs, but we keep them away from people unless we are doing a public demonstration at a special event that we control,” says Lieutenant Carroll. “Even then, we keep them tight on the leash when they’re not performing.”
For 10 years Lieutenant Carroll served as a K-9 handler with the Arnold Police Department until he was named to his current role by Chief Robert Shockey 3 years ago.
“Being a police canine handler was a dream of mine in childhood,” he admits.
Today Lieutenant Carroll supervises Officers William Knuth, who handles Sampson; Officer Todd Watson, who handles Khan; and Officer Marissa Shular, who handles Moro. “It’s a rewarding job for all of us because these are talented dogs and we enjoy working with them,” Lieutenant Carroll says. “All three dogs love to work hard, and at the end of the day they are happy with their own reward – a ball.”
Sampson is a German Shephard, but Khan and Moro are Belgian Malinois, a breed similar to a German Shephard yet slightly smaller. “Our K-9 Unit used to be all German Shepherds,” says Lieutenant Carroll. “The Belgian Malinois breed is becoming popular for K-9 units at law enforcement agencies. They are smart, friendly, protective, and hardworking – and they have great ‘hunt’ drive.”
Sampson has been on the job for about 5 years. The Police Department acquired Sampson from a training school in Elkhart, Indiana. Sampson is well known in regional law enforcement as an explosives detective. At a traffic stop after a tip to the Arnold Police Department by the US Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms about a potential terrorist act, Sampson sniffed out 50 pounds of black powder hidden in the vehicle. For that, Sampson won an award from the North American Police Work Dog Association.
Then when the Department most recently needed two new dogs, Lieutenant Carroll visited Little Rock Canine Academy in Arkansas to check out potential recruits from those being trained there. He told its owner he wanted to “reserve” two dogs for service in Arnold when they graduated – Moro and Kahn. Their soon-to-be handlers from the Arnold Police tested both dogs for their sociability and their “hunt drive.” Both dogs passed muster impressively. Then the handlers spent two weeks in training with their dogs at the academy before Moro and Kahn were officially sworn in at the Arnold Police Department to begin their duties. (A well-trained police dog can cost an estimated $7,000 to $8,000.) Moro and Kahn have been patrolling with their handlers for about 3 months.
In the three months that Khan has been on the job, he has discovered illegal narcotics four times, and distinguished himself as a tracker by apprehending a parole violator who had fled from a house and disappeared. All three dogs, including Moro, are trained to track a scent “like a bloodhound,” Lieutenant Carroll says.
“There’s a lot of work involved,” he adds. Arnold Police officers patrol the streets and respond to calls for assistance in two 12-hour shifts each day, but the K-9 Unit patrols and responds in 11-hour shifts. That’s so Officers Knuth, Watson, and Shular can put their dogs in their private kennel long enough to write daily patrol reports. The officers then take the dogs home with them for exercise, feeding, grooming, and rest.
“They really become part of the officers’ families,” Lieutenant Carroll says. “They love and obey their handlers.”
“These dogs protect the public, they protect their handlers and officers in patrol platoons. And they help us catch lawbreakers.”
“Instead of risking officer safety in some situations, we can turn the dogs on criminals – once they see a canine running after them, nine times out of ten the criminal gives up on the spot,” Lieutenant Carroll says.
New K-9 dogs are acquired when the Police Department retires others from duty, usually for health reasons.
“If you can get 10 years of duty from a dog, you’re doing well,” says Lieutenant Carroll.
When an Arnold Police dog finally retires, the Department usually hosts a congratulatory ceremony complete with newspaper coverage before the dog goes home with service rewards that may include doggie treats, a ball, and a “bite sleeve” for a chew toy.
In many cases since the Arnold Police K-9 Unit was founded in 1995, handlers personally adopt the retiring dog, guaranteeing them a good home throughout their golden years.