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Behind the scenes of K-9 training for Southwest Florida law enforcement

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Posted at 6:35 PM, Mar 15, 2023

FORT MYERS, FLA — Today we're getting a further behind-the-scenes look at the training that takes place for K-9s in law enforcement.

We spent the day with Fort Myers Police Department along with additional officers and deputies from across the country who took part in Wednesday's intense training inside a vacant building in Fort Myers.

Sergeant Jari Sanders with Fort Myers Police Department K-9 Unit explained to us that days like today are what help strengthen their teams and prepare them for all types of situations, "That’s what makes the canine team successful — all the training."

He says that this kind of training is high-intensity. "Violence and chaos — that is what they’re going to find in the street. These are long days for the men and women that come out here and do the stuff — it’s not easy. There’s a whole lotta sweat discomfort and work."

We're told this training is by two of the best in the country. "That being said we’ve had handlers come from Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, South Carolina, and upstate New York so handlers will travel to find these guys because the training is so good," Sergeant Jari Sanders.

Police K-9 Trainer Ray Murphy says time and time again these K-9s have proven to save officers' lives. "They’ve got extremely keen senses, they can find suspects that are hiding, maybe an ambush, and typically they’re also good for de-escalation. When the dog comes out and they hear the bark, a lot of people come out of hiding and surrender versus having some altercation. The training that we bring is chaotic and messy. We're in environments like this so we try and replicate what these guys are going to find."

Co-Owner of HRD Police K9 Ted Summers adds that the K-9s are also used when finding narcotics and/or explosives, helping track criminals, and people suspected of violent crimes, and sometimes will help with an Amber Alert or Silver Alert.

"This is just another great training that our agency will bring to us because they know how important it is for us to keep up and training to help keep the community safe and our handlers and our officers safe," says Sergeant Sanders.

"We’ve got tons of feedback from officers that I’ve gone through almost exactly what we’ve put them through a training and credited that to saving either their lives are the canine lives are which is pretty humbling for us," says Murphy.

"We use them as a locating tool but they’re always going to be our partner they go home with us," says Sergeant Sanders.

After speaking with those officers they say this is only a part of the training that you get to see. They have to train weekly to stay on top of their toes so they’re ready for any kind of situation in the blink of an eye.