Updated: 06/05/2014 11:16 PM
Created: 06/05/2014 10:03 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson
Folks in the Northland had the chance to meet some of their toughest and fastest police officers. These officers have a keen sense of smell, and quite the bite. They are our local K-9 units.
Thursday, "Operation K-9" formally launched the new non-profit, Amsoil Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation.
The foundation was created last fall to raise funds and support K-9 units for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Duluth Police Department, St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, and Superior Police Department.
Between the four agencies, they usually have about 10 dogs. At "Operation K-9" the 10 dogs were together for the first time and showing what they can do.
For the event, Amsoil Center in Superior didn't quite look like it's typical warehouse. It was set up as a training ground and had quite the crowd.
One demonstration scenario had two Duluth K-9 units respond to a suspicious car in a park. The first suspect, which is actually a deputy dressed in a safety suit, tried to run. K-9 Oakley quickly took him down.
Suspect number two was armed and agitated, but not for long. K-9 Loki did a sneak attack, jumping up on the hood of the car and taking down the suspect.
All the K-9s took a turn, demonstrating what they do every day. Hundreds of kids and their parents came to see the K-9s in action and learn more about what they do.
"I didn't know the dogs live with their handlers, so that's neat information to know," said Jessica Tenney of Amnicon, Wisc.
Duluth police officer Marc Johnson said his partner Oakley is his best tool. As a dual-purpose dog, Oakley detects narcotics and is quick to apprehend suspects, too.
"That's why they are so important to us, sometimes they [suspects] are faster than us just foot-to-foot, but they never run out the dog," said Johnson.
Deputy Chief Nicholas Alexander with the Superior Police Department is the president of the foundation. He explained the work K-9s do is invaluable.
"They add wonderful capabilities to our agencies, but it does come at a cost and that's part of the idea of the foundation. Budgets are tight. Cities do everything to stretch the dollars but the programs are expensive," he said.
With training, Alexander said K-9s can cost between $20,000 to $25,000.
During the event, Amsoil donated $10,000 to the new foundation.
To learn more about the foundation, click here.
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