Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Police dogs could get TV time at competition

By Jane Prendergast
Enquirer staff writer

Members of the Cincinnati Police Department Canine Unit, along with canine units from Norwood and Loveland, run through a group obedience drill at their training center in Evendale.
You might see Cincinnati's police dog team on Animal Planet after all.

Five Cincinnati dogs and their handlers leave Thursday for the U.S. Police Canine Association field trials in Huntsville, Ala. It's the same national competition the Cincinnati team won last year.

When the city didn't agree on a contract quickly enough for producers to film here, it seemed the Cincinnati team might be left out. But the film crew will be at the trials, where Cincinnati hopes to shine again.

The team of four Cincinnati handlers and an alternate has practiced with its 4-year-old German shepherds for weeks. The dogs have to do things such as heel with their shoulders perfectly aligned with their handlers' pant seams, jump over obstacles that simulate fences and walk up a ladder, which simulates a fire escape. They lose points if they sit crooked or return to heel too slowly.

The team will test for its re-certification at the event, too. The U.S. Department of Justice now wants the unit to be recertified every year, twice as often as Ohio standards require.

The competition means a lot more, though.

"This isn't all just window-dressing," said Sgt. Dan Hils, canine unit supervisor. "This means we have the best dogs working out on the street, too."

Justice Department monitors were brought in to review the entire police department in the wake of the 2001 riots. But the handlers and their supervisors were surprised at the intense scrutiny directed at the dog unit.

Of the 87 suspects found this year by the dogs through the end of September, 10 were bitten.

Among Justice's policy changes: Dogs can no longer be let loose in schools to look for burglars, as they can in other buildings, unless there's an obvious sign of a break-in in progress.

Cincinnati's policy allows the dogs to be used only to look for suspects in violent misdemeanors and serious felonies. They also can be used to search for guns and clothing.

In Alabama, Cincinnati's team will compete against at least 150 other dogs, said Russ Hess, executive director of the canine association.

The association this week signed a six-year contract with the production company working on the Animal Planet show. That gives them permission to film at the trials.

Norwood and Loveland also are sending officers to the trials.

The dogs live with the officers at their homes. But the officers are trained to view the dogs as expendable, as life-savers for them.

Still, the dogs become pets. Officer Scott Duncan has to be careful stepping out of the shower because Gunthner always lies on the tub mat.

Tony White's dog, Dakota, knows his car number. When the dispatcher calls for "8108," Dakota starts to whine. He knows the call means a chance to get out of the cruiser and look for a suspect.

The teams should learn its scores by Nov. 12.

Also, Officer John Neal, with dog Maximus, is nominated for an award for finding two carjacking suspects in Avondale last month.


Ohio provisional ballots may decide presidential election
Voters repeal amendment on gay rights
Ohio Supreme Court: GOP's justices appear to be buttressing majority
Voinovich has no trouble winning 2nd Senate term
Sycamore levy passes; four others fail
Kerry effort falls short in Ohio
Ohio Republicans aim to maintain grip in House, Senate
Ohio election briefs
Ohio Issue 1 passes
Turnout heavy in suburbs
MU students hit the polls
Cincinnati school levy passes
Hospital tax leading despite opposition
Clermont County: Republicans remain choice in early count
Clermont County tax issues: Long lines delay counting
Fairfield levy passes
Butler commission: All incumbents being returned
Butler levies: Support strong for health, social care funding
Butler County Sheriff: Jones likely successor to Gabbard
Heavy turnout, long lines delay vote count
Kings levy passes by slim margin
Indiana governor: Daniels prevails after tough, costly slugfest
Ballot misprint may affect Ind. school board race

Alexandria: Voters stick with City Council's six incumbents
Bellevue City Council: Two incumbents losing seats with 4 of 5 precincts counted
Covington: Sanders and Stricker joining City Commission
Campbell County: Ward holds on to retain seat on Circuit Court
Florence City Council: One newcomer, five incumbents win seats
Independence: Four who opposed insurance tax win
Newport: Mayor, all four on council will be keeping their seats
Suburban schools: Campbell, other area boards get fresh faces
Villa Hills, Taylor Mill: Taxes to fix, replace city streets rejected
Urban schools: Newcomer ousts incumbent, snags Newport board seat
N. Ky. election briefs
Popular president dominates Kentucky
Ky. Senate: Bunning wins - but race was close
Ky. House: This time around, Davis prevails
Issue One: Kentucky overwhelmingly says yes to no-gay-marriage
State's determined voters brave long lines, waits, rain
23rd Senate District: Westwood survives challenge by Groob
Ex-Gov. Carroll wins Frankfort seat
State Senate: Republican Thayer wins a full term in new seat
67th House District: Keene's win preserves spot for Democrats

Shelter director traveled from needing to helping
Help Habitat by hiring yard rakers
Father inspired mission journey
Cone throw may bring legal action
Police dogs could get TV time at competition
Harrison man charged in auto fatals
Exhibit to spotlight 350 years of Judaism in America
Medal of Honor graves get special markers
Local news briefs
Neighbors news briefs

Good Things Happening

Gay Weber designed jet engines for GE

Time of change in Crestview Hills
Waltz or swing, timid students learn to let go
Florence Freedom has a deal
$545,000 grant to bolster Ky. health-care work force
N. Ky. news briefs
Jewelry gone after autopsy of corpse
N.Ky. schools' education guide available online
Murder counts filed in wreck that killed 2