The value of police canine teams is demonstrated in an increased level of deputy safety and more efficient use of patrol time.
The Lane County Sheriff's Office K9 Unit consists of Unit Supervisor, Gordon Gill; and Patrol Deputies Todd Olson and Ryan Lane. Deputies Olson and Lane, in addition to their patrol duties, are the assigned canine handlers.
Deputy Olson and his K9 Zeto joined the canine program in the fall of 2007. Zeto is a German Shepherd / Belgian malinois (Royal Dutch Police Dog), who received his KNPV training in the Netherlands. Zeto completed his training with honors, and obtained a lifetime certification as a Police Dog in the Netherlands.
Deputy Ryan Lane joined the K-9 Team in June of 2009. His K-9 partner, Giel, is a KNPV trained Belgian Malinois. "KNPV", seen as a suffix on the names of many Dutch dogs, is an abbreviation for "Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging" or Royal Dutch Police Dog Association. This organization conducts police dog trials and offers certificates that are among the most coveted and respected in the world. This test demands a dog of great character, physical strength, agility and stamina.
In 2002, police supervisors identified opportunities for reinstating the Sheriff's canine program. With no discretionary County General Funds available, Sheriff's employees set out on a community fundraising effort that resulted in the ability to field two police service dog teams. Please see our K9 Donor List - this work would not exist without the continued generous support of community donors.
The first year of the program brought 293 opportunities for K9 deployment, resulting in 56 suspect captures. The numbers demonstrated the degree to which the K9 unit acts as a "force multiplier."
Authorized staffing levels limit the number of deputies available for any scene, making traditional perimeter and search operations more complex. The use of a police K9 increases the likelihood of locating suspects who have fled the immediate area while providing an additional layer of safety to deputies; decreasing the search time and amount of staff needed to complete a safe and thorough search.
Police canine teams possess specialized skills that require constant training and certification. Our K9s originated in Europe where they began their training as puppies. K9 teams are required to pass the annual OPCA (Oregon Police Canine Association) standards testing to remain eligible to do police work. Both our K9 teams completed a basic canine academy where they received an initial 240 hours of training. They also complete a minimum of 16 hours of formal training each month, and attend the fall and spring OPCA seminars each year.
Both Zeto and Giel have had tremendous success in tracking and locating suspects, and have located hidden property that was either used in the commission of a crime, or stolen by the suspects.
For information about making a donation to the K9 Unit, please contact Sergeant Gordon Gill, at the telephone number or email address listed above.