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West Valley City Journal

West Valley police dogs and officers win national awards

Dec 11, 2019 03:19PM ● By Stephanie DeGraw

WVCPD Officer CJ Moore works with his police dog Tank every day. Both won awards at a national event. (Stephanie DeGraw/City Journals)

By Stephanie DeGraw | [email protected] 

The intensity and intelligence of specially trained police dogs was the highlight of a recent demonstration. Ranger and Tank and their police partners earned Top Agency honors for the West Valley City Police Department at an international competition. They challenged police dogs from across the country and Mexico at the Las Vegas K9 Trials Oct. 6.

“We did really well on the patrol side and the narcotic side,” Sgt. Jake Palmer said. “My partner Ranger placed third-place top dog overall. Tank won second-place top narcotics dog. We have a special bond with our dogs.”

The WVCPD K9 teams competed against over 50 canine handlers from around the country, including handlers from outside of the United States. The teams competed in several tasks to include area and building searches, narcotics searches and handler protection.  

Ranger and Tank are dual-purpose dogs trained in searching and narcotics detection. The dogs excel in both areas. The training by the WVCPD K9 Unit is excellent as evidenced by the awards. Palmer won the first place Handler Protection award. Ranger, his 3-year-old Belgian Malinois dog, won third place Top Dog Overall category, as well as third place Narcotics Dog, and fourth place Building Search Dog.

Officer CJ Moore and his dog Tank won second place Narcotics Dog and fourth place Narcotics Vehicle awards. Tank is a 2½-year-old German Shepherd who joined Moore when he was a year old. Tank was a “green dog” with no training. “Most of us are trainers, and we do all of our training in-house in our police department,” Moore said. “We can teach them whatever we want them to do instead of getting them from another kennel where they may have some bad habits already. Our dogs are a blank slate and we prefer it that way.”  

Dogs become family and everyone who has a bond with their dog is kind-hearted, according to Moore. “These dogs become our working partners. Our dogs are officers and we consider them man’s best tool along with man’s best friend.” Dogs train with the officers every day and go home with them at night.

“The bond grows quickly. There is a bit of a pecking order. The dogs are alpha personalities and the officers are type-A personalities, so once we establish that rank, that bond is then there. You have this dog that is trained to do amazing things, that will run through a wall for you,” he said.

Moore feels it’s an advantage to patrol with a trained dog versus a human. “When I do a traffic stop and walk up to the car, I don’t know what kind of situation I’ll be in. But I can look back and see my dog’s eyes glowing watching my every step. I know if the worst happens he’ll be there when I need him,” he said.

Police have buttons on their vest which they can push and the dog’s door will open, so it can come to the rescue. “Having that dog with you all night long is a great feeling that you are never alone. Although he can’t talk to me, I talk to him all night,” Moore said.

The WVCPD began using dogs on the force over 20 years ago. K9 officers assist with responding to calls and average 175 calls each month. The K9 unit averages 15 to 20 deployments each month for drug and suspect searches. Around 80% of the time the dog discovers the drugs to be seized. Canine officers on the scene also help police gain control of unruly suspects. The WVCPD K9 officers regularly assist other agencies with suspect and drug searches.