MVPD has one of the longest-running K9 programs in Northern California. Pictured above are Officers John Stephens, Dan Birtwell and Don Meyers on a windy afternoon in 1961 with the first MVPD canines. The dogs came from Germany and responded only to German commands.
Police dogs are one of the most effective and diverse tools used in policing. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and hearing making them a valuable partner to a police officer. A police dog will respond to noise from 140 yards away compared to about 40 yards for a human, and their speed allows them to overtake a person running away.
Besides being terrific companions, they save time for our officers, reduce the number of officers needed for a search, they perform more thorough searches, and they help keep our officers and the community safe during the apprehension of dangerous criminals.
We purchase dogs when they’re about two years old—all German Shepherds (except for one Labrador). With the exception of a brief period in the 1960s, we have imported all of our dogs from Europe (Germany, Holland, Czechoslovakia), because of their strict breeding standards.
Tracking and searching make up most K9 deployments. A K9 team goes to work only after successfully completing 160-hours of basic training, narcotic detection training, and obtaining state certification. When a service dog retires, the city relinquishes ownership to the officer so that the dog can live out his life as a pet.