For some police officers who love dogs, the idea of becoming a K-9 officer may be very appealing.
However, most K-9 candidates will have to go through four common steps before they become official K-9 officers.
Note that all law enforcement agencies and departments operate under different parameters, so some noted sub-steps may not be applicable.
Whatever the case, these are the general steps most candidates need to take in order to become a K-9 officer:
Different departments and agencies have varying education requirements. While some departments accept high school graduates, most require a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, preferably with a focus on criminal justice. Many will also accept candidates with military service, especially those who served as military police (MP). The more education and experience someone has, the higher the chance they’ll be able to compete for a K-9 officer position.
2. Apply for a Relevant Law Enforcement Position
Law enforcement applicants need to impress the hiring department as well as undergo a number of tests and at least one personal interview with the higher-ups. Testing and related pre-hiring vetting will likely include:
· Physical fitness
· Medical exam
· Background check
· And perhaps a psychological exam
3. Gain Patrol Experience
No department is going to assign an officer to the K-9 unit until they’ve gained policing/law enforcement experience. New officers can expect to put in some time in the field, patrolling the streets or conducting other standard duties for at least a year or two before they are allowed to apply for a K-9 position.
4. Apply for an Open K-9 Position
Once an officer serves the required time on standard patrol, they can apply for a K-9 Unit position. As part of the application process, applicants will probably have to fill out forms and undergo at least one personal interview. Any prior dog handling experience might boost a candidate’s chances of getting named to the K-9 officer position.
New K-9 officers undergo classroom and on-the-job training that focus on such things as dog obedience, dog care, dog-handling safety, crowd control, and much more, before being assigned to a K-9 partner.
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