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Canine Unit

The Minneapolis Police Canine Unit serves the citizens and law enforcement officers of Minneapolis and the surrounding community. The goal of the Canine Unit is to make police work safer and more efficient for the men and women who patrol the streets through the use of specially trained canines and handlers.

The Canine Unit is made up of two sergeants and fifteen officers, totaling seventeen canine teams.  Fourteen of the teams are trained as patrol canines.  Eleven of those patrol teams are also narcotic detector certified and three of the patrol teams are explosive detector certified.  The unit has two qualified tracking bloodhounds, an ATF certified single-purpose explosive detector canine and a certified single-purpose narcotic detector canine.

The purchase of canines and equipment is supported in part by the Minneapolis Police Canine Foundation, a non-profit organization formed to bring financial help to the unit and to provide help educating the community about police canine work.  For more information about the foundation or how to make a donation, please call 612-673-5942.

 

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Canine Unit History

The City of Minneapolis started the trial use of canines prior to 1970. Police Chief Gordon Johnson sent two officers, Welton Kopp and Mike Fisher, to Washington, D.C. where they trained with two German shepherd dogs. Welton trained with Mason and Mike with Smokey. Both officers returned with their dogs and convinced the city leadership to invest in a canine program. Minneapolis went along with the help of government financing. Both Welton and Mike recruited 8 handlers for the first class and set out to find dogs for the new venture. Dogs were recruited from the private sector, mainly from German shepherd dog breeders. The class was assembled in 1970 and consisted of 8 teams. The department had chosen from a list of 80 who applied.

Training for the first class was held at the closed U.S. Navy base in south Minneapolis. This training facility was later reactivated and is presently used by the U.S. Air Force. Officers were trained in all phases of police dog use using the standards set forth by the United States Police Canine Association. The class duration was 13 weeks and officers covered everything the new teams would need for the street.

All graduated in 1971, using the auditorium at Roosevelt High School in South Minneapolis for the ceremony. The teams then served all precincts across the city through the Tactical Services Division and later through a new unit called the Special Operations Division. Many changes in the assignment of the Canine Unit have been made in Minneapolis since those days.

The original 8 officers chosen for the canine unit consisted of Officers William Lundquist, K9 Sergeant (his name was changed since the breeders had named him Hippie Hit Hat); Mark Jacobson, K9 Rommel; Phil Bishman, K9 Lance; Dave Neibur, K9 Thor; Richard Stahura, K9 Trooper; Dick Morrill, K9 Rex; Roger Fancher, K9 Clancy; and Charles Adams, K9 Lance.

The city built a kennel facility on the city's East Side near the Mississippi River with a large, fenced training grounds suitable for attack, article search and agility exercises. The building had a classroom and 10 dog runs. It was a quality building that served the city for about 15 years, when it was demolished and a new facility built in its place.

Minneapolis opened its grounds to neighboring police departments and offered to train canine teams. St. Paul Police Department sent several officers to Minneapolis to be trained. After they established a Canine Unit in their department, they too built a kennel and training facility. This facility also serves as a training location for outside communities. Numerous departments from out of state train and receive recognition at yearly competitions.

Article submitted by Officer William Lundquist

Canine Unit Duties

The Minneapolis Police Canine Unit currently has 17 canine teams working in the city.  The 17 teams attend Roll Call at the Police Kennel and are assigned shift duties from that location.  Canine teams are on duty almost 24 hours a day and can also be called in at any hour.  Canine teams patrol all parts of the City.

Canine teams work regular uniform patrol in their assigned precinct and respond to assist on alarm calls; burglary calls; building searches; article searches; suspect tracking; area and building searches for suspects; narcotics and bomb calls; and officer safety assists.  Canine officers may also assist on other police calls but they try to stay available for calls where their dog might be deployed.  Canine teams also participate in many civic functions and educational demonstrations throughout the year.

All Minneapolis Police Canine Unit Patrol teams must pass an annual certification through the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) every year after their initial 12-week basic school.  This certification ensures the canine teams are not only skilled at their jobs but also well controlled.  All of our canine teams receive daily training and organized unit training on a weekly basis.  Most of our canines are cross-trained as detector dogs (narcotics or explosives).  They must pass the 120 hour Minneapolis Police Canine Detector School and must re-certify every year thereafter.

All of the canines go home with their human partners.  Not only are the dogs more socialized being around the officer's family, but they stay healthier not kenneled together where disease and illness can spread more easily.

The Minneapolis Police Canine Training Facility is located in Northeast Minneapolis.  The facility has heated kennel runs, a classroom, and fenced-in training grounds.  In addition to the equipment on-site, much of the unit's training takes place at various locations in the city to provide new challenges to our canine teams. This is a USPCA certified training site, and police dog training courses are open to law enforcement agencies

If you have any questions about the Canine Unit, please contact Sergeant Chuck McCree at 612-673-5942

Last updated Jul 18, 2018

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