In the video, the use of the dog in the apprehension was viewed by many as startling, but officers with the San Diego Police Department's K-9 Unit said every situation is evaluated closely before a dog is ever deployed.
“In my opinion, it’s the most valuable tool that any police department could utilize, especially if you’re trying to take people into custody and save lives," said Lt. Dwayne Voss.
Voss said these animals each have individual specialties and are invaluable tools and a less lethal option when it comes to enforcement.
“What you have to remember is a dog is not deadly force…and we use these dogs to save lives," Voss said.
Voss said police dogs usually serve all purposes deemed necessary, most commonly suspect apprehension. In a police K-9 demonstration, one of the unit’s 35 dogs jumps into action and helps officers safely pull a suspect from the vehicle.
But it’s not just apprehensions or pursuits. In other cases, dogs like Gizmo can sniff out narcotics or are trained in explosives detection. Others are trained to search buildings and locate missing or dangerous persons, detect hidden contraband and more often serve as an intimidating threat to perpetrators who may attempt to elude an officer on foot.
Voss said dogs are a valuable tool in policing.
“You’re not going to be able to challenge the dog intellectually. The dog is going to be focused on what it’s trained to do. And if I say you’re under arrest, you’re under arrest," Voss said.
He said dogs deter would-be attackers from attempting an assault and allows agencies to send operatives into situations limiting potential loss of human life.
“We do not treat them as sacrificial lambs…they are very important to the San Diego Police Department and to the officers that handle them," Voss said.
Each of the 35 dogs was donated by the San Diego Police Foundation and, depending on the type of training the dog has received, the monetary value of a dog can exceed $12,000 to $15,000.
For more information or to donate to the San Diego Police Canine Unit, visit http://sdpolicefoundation.org.