In 1995, FWCS, in conjunction with the Fort Wayne Police Department, piloted the K-9 Interdiction program at Northrop and Snider High Schools. Since then, police dogs have been used to make system-wide unannounced, non-intrusive sniff searches of lockers and/or vehicles upon request of the school principal.
The dogs have been specially trained to detect not only drugs but also weapons and explosive devices. They can sniff about 200 lockers in ten minutes.
The program, which is limited to middle and high schools, is provided by the police department at no cost to FWCS, and has been used as a model by law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Joint K9 School Drug Interdiction Program
Sgt. Robert Theurer and K9 Johnny
Bob Theurer joined the Fort Wayne Police Department in 1989. He serves in the uniformed division and was fortunate to be chosen for the K9 Unit in 1996 where he was paired with his first dog Rico.
In 2003 Officer Theurer was promoted to Sergeant and continues today as the K9 Unit's supervisor.
When K9 Rico retired, K9 Johnny took his place and is still working the streets today with Sgt. Theurer.
Sgt. Theurer is also a Master Trainer of Police Utility and Narcotics Detection K9 Teams with the North American Police Work Dog Association.
FWPD K-9 Program
The Fort Wayne police Department's K9 Unit had a meager beginning in the early 1970's with one dog. This K9 team was only trained to smell for the odor of marijuana.
Throughout the years the K9 Unit grew to its current strength of 11 K9 Teams. Of these current teams, 10 are trained for narcotics detection and one is trained for explosive detection. They all are also trained for the police utility disciplines which includes; obedience, tracking, building search, area search, evidence recovery and criminal apprehension. Combined, these eleven teams have over 100 years of experience in K9 Policing.
The Fort Wayne Police Department has on staff, two North American Police Work Dog Association Master Trainers. Affiliation with this nationally recognized organization provides credibility for our training program, certifications and courtroom testimony.
There are currently three K9 teams assigned to each shift of the Operations Division of the police department. The other two teams are the K9 Unit Supervisor and the K9 Unit Trainer. They provide training and logistical support for the Unit and can supplement all three shifts as needed. One K9 team is assigned to the Narcotics division on a rotating schedule to assist in the successful completion of that divisionís mission.
The dogs are hand selected for their genetic based knowledge and trainability. We look for young, intelligent and very sociable animals with a preference for the shepherd breeds. We typically begin training when the animal reaches 18 to 24 months old. The animal is paired with a candidate handler and they begin a 13 week basic training program together. Either one or both can wash out of the program. Upon successful completion of the basic class the team is certified and assigned to a shift.
The police dogs live with their human counterparts and their families. Although these animals are wonderful members of their human family, they are not to be considered or treated as family pets because of their training. These dogs work very hard. They receive the best in nutrition, training and medical care and are considered athletes. Because of this they can typically work several years before retirement. Once a police dog is retired, they typically remain with their handler and live out their lives with their human family.
These Police Dogs are a valuable asset to the Fort Wayne Police Department and to the Citizens of Fort Wayne. They have a sense of smell that we cannot fully comprehend. By harnessing their natural abilities, we are able to locate more concealed contraband people, and evidence at a fraction of the cost of a human officer.
The Fort Wayne Police Department's K9 Unit supports the FWCS Safety and Security Office by providing K9 teams at the request of High School and Middle School Administrators for the implementation of the joint K9 School Drug Interdiction Program.