Highlands School students get up-close look at HPD K-9 units

Highlands School students got to see K-9s from the Highlands Police Department in action on Thursday demonstrating tracking and suspect apprehension, also called ‘bitework.’

K-9 Officers Hope and Xena performed the tasks for middle-school students and gave the kids a chance to ask questions.

Student Resource Officer Tim Brouhgton took one for the team and donned a sleeve made of a “strong-tweed material,” to demonstrate what’s involved in suspect apprehension by letting HPD’s Hope, a German Shepherd, engage Broughton to the students’ delight.

“You don’t feel it too bad, but the dog is strong,” said Broughton.  “You pretty much feel pressure, not pain.”

Here’s a frame by frame of Broughten demonstrating suspect apprehension  for Highlands Middle School students:

HPD’s other K-9 Officer Xena, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, is still training for her certification in bitework, but she is certified in tracking, which she demonstrated by locating Broughten hidden in the woods.

After Broughton found a good hiding spot, HPD officers let Hope smell an article of Broughton’s clothing to begin tracking him. Officers said this is similar in strength-of-smell to a suspect hopping out of a car and stomping their feet on the ground as they flee. Hope found Broughton in under two minutes.

Xena finds Officer Tim Broughton hiding in the woods demonstrating tracking.

HPD K-9 Officer Kevin Breedlove said once Xena locks onto an odor, she will track that odor regardless of any other smells she encounters along the way. During suspect apprehension, the K-9 will not let go of the suspect until instructed to do so by its handler.

HPD K-9 Officer Kevin Breedlove talks with highlands Middle School students on Thursday.

Breedlove is Xena’s handler and said dogs are primarily used for narcotics and missing persons calls. He added almost any breed of dog can be trained for law enforcement as long as it has high drive and energy.

Xena has a scheduled 8 hours of training each, but Breedlove said every day is a training day while on duty.

Broughton said showing students what law enforcement does and how they do it gives kids a better understanding of police officers.

“It’s shows a human side to law enforcement and let’s them know we’re approachable,” said Broughton.

Students were given a chance to ask questions about Xena and Hope, HPD’s canine units.

HPD put on the demonstration for students in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week, a national anti-drug and -bullying campaign.

“During the week, we go out and talk to classes and give them materials to help promote the message of anti-drug and anti-bullying,” said Broughton.

Editor’s Note: I laughed pretty hard editing these pics. Well done Officer Broughton.

Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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