Since the start of its K-9 Patrol division in 1990, the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office has added a number of four-legged law enforcement professionals to its crime fighting team. They don't wear uniforms, but they are among the hardest working members of the LPSO staff.
Today, the K-9 Patrol includes five teams consisting of a handler and a dog working in a unique partnership. Under the direction of their handlers, the dogs assist with patrol and narcotics duties such as traffic stops, car and building searches and tracking. They are trained to pursue and apprehend, with minimum force, criminals fleeing a serious crime and arrest. "They also assist with searches for guns, knives, clothing and other evidence and are often called out to assist with drug and bomb searches at schools in the parish," explains Mike Zeigler, K-9 Supervisor..
Zeigler was instrumental in establishing the K-9 Patrol division and served as the LPSO's first K-9 officer. "The dogs complete a rigorous training program and are about 75% of the way through their training when they come to us. The dogs and their handlers then go through four more weeks of training together before they are ready for patrol," added Zeigler. The training for the K-9 teams doesn't stop there. Every Wednsday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. is dedicated to on-going training sessions in all aspects of K-9 duties. The dogs are trained in agility for climbing and jumping fences, as well as in obedience.
At present, the K-9s in service with the LPSO are different breeds, from Belgian Malinois to German Shepards. In addition to police work, they are often used for herding and tracking and are well known for their obedience.