Lieutenant Tom Hodgson
The Utah County Sheriff's Office K-9 Team consists of a Sergeant and seven deputy handlers that provide canine support to Patrol, Investigations, Search and Rescue, and Corrections. The K-9 Team has been in existence for well over 20 years. Our K-9 team is a resource for all agencies and cities in Utah County, and surrounding areas. The deputies and their canine partners have coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Why do we need dogs in police work? Simply put, they can do things that their human partners can't. By use of their keen senses, they are able to sense what people cannot. Due to their keen sense of smell, sight, agility and other abilities, they are a very valuable tool in police work. Dogs can be trained to find people, both those that are hiding from various law enforcement agencies to avoid being taken into custody, as well as those individuals that have become lost or are missing. Dogs can also be trained to detect various narcotics and explosives. By training with actual narcotics and chemicals used in explosives, the dogs are able to smell the very distinct odors given off from these items. Most of our dogs are also trained in “handler protection.” Unfortunately, many times a K-9 Deputy, or “handler,” will be called on to help apprehend a violent person. These dogs are trained to find and apprehend the individual that has presented themselves as a threat to our community. They are also trained to help defend officers that are attacked by a violent person.
Five of our K-9's are dual-purpose dogs that are trained to locate narcotics such as Marijuana, Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine, as well as search for and apprehend high-risk criminals who have fled from law enforcement and/or concealed themselves to avoid capture. We use Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds for this type of work. These dogs have been through extensive training courses and are certified through Utah POST. Once this initial training and certification has been completed, the Utah County K-9 Team continues to train with these dogs almost daily to enable these valuable tools to keep their skills up.
We have one single purpose dog, a Labrador, that is trained in narcotic detection. This dog has also been through an extensive training course and is certified through Utah POST.
We also have a dual-purpose dog that is trained to indicate on explosives and also assists with tracking and finding any individual that may be lost in remote areas. This dog has also been through an extensive training course and is certified through Utah POST. This dog is constantly being trained in detection of actual chemical substances commonly used in various explosives.
The K-9 Team also provides canine demonstrations throughout the year for school programs, scout groups, community activities, businesses, and special interest groups. These demonstrations provide an excellent opportunity to promote a greater understanding of how and why canines benefit law enforcement and citizens in their efforts to keep our communities safe. Due to budget constraints, we try and schedule these demonstrations on Wednesday’s, our normal team training day. If you would like to schedule a K-9 demonstration, please contact the Sheriff’s Office to have one arranged.
All of our Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds are specially bred for police work. These dogs are very expensive to purchase, over $10,000, but the reward far out-weighs the cost. These dogs are bred in Europe and then sold to a contractor in the United States where we purchase the dog. They are usually around two years old at the time we purchase them. After the initial purchase, and training put in to keep the dog at a high level of performance, the value of each of these dogs are well over $20,000 making them a very valuable tool in police work and in keeping our community safe! Like every other group, our K-9 team suffers from a very tight budget. We rely on local businesses and individuals for financial aid. If you would like to donate to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Team, please contact us.