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Police trained in dog handling

BY BRIAN BESCH
Enterprise staff
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LIVINGSTON -- Pedigo Park became the site for a runaway criminal Tuesday afternoon, as police dogs were called upon to detain the person.

Several dogs had the opportunity to capture the man, in a training session held behind the Angelina College Polk County Center, where officers had received classroom education that morning.

TRAINING SESSION -- Livingston Officer Paul Benfer (right) has his K-9 detain a “suspect” in a training session on Tuesday at Pedigo Park. Officers from several East Texas police departments are currently taking a course to get K-9 certification. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY ALBERT TREVINO)TRAINING SESSION -- Livingston Officer Paul Benfer (right) has his K-9 detain a “suspect” in a training session on Tuesday at Pedigo Park. Officers from several East Texas police departments are currently taking a course to get K-9 certification. (ENTERPRISE PHOTO BY ALBERT TREVINO)"It depends on which police officer you ask and what K-9 organization you belong to, as to what training and certification is the best method," Livingston Officer Paul Benfer said. "There has never been a standard certification and no one way is better than another."

With the help of Marcelo Rosario of Angelina College, the class is trying to standardize K-9 certification through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). The instructor, Norm Garner, has been training police K-9s for over 30 years.

One of the main points stressed by the organization is that dogs are safety conscious that others can be around. The dogs are trained to bite and come back to the handler off the leash. The dogs training on Tuesday were able to accomplish this and obeyed when called off of a chase.

The instructor from Shreveport, Louisiana said similar courses could be as much as $12,000 and include a trained dog. Garner has offered this group training for $5.

The decision to carry a K-9 is up to each individual department and the funds available to have a dog on the staff.

For an officer and his K-9 to pass the 64-hour class, the K-9 and officer have to show the ability to detect narcotics, and track a person over paved streets and through wooded areas.

They must also pass a patrol certification. Attending this first class is officers from many East Texas departments representing Corrigan, Alto, Groveton, Lufkin and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.