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Escondido Police dog gets promotion – to detective

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2015 | Firm News |

Law Enforcement is very protective of its canine unit dogs.  The officers know they are an asset.  For the canine officers there is a bond between them.  The officers are quick to charge anyone who injures the dog.  The fact someone may have injured the canine unit is not a good fact usually for the jury.  Most agencies have canine units and have very intensive training programs.


The Escondido Police Department welcomed its first four-legged detective this week.

After serving as a patrol dog since 2010 finding drugs on suspects nearly 90 times and being brought to more than 1,000 crime scenes, Jena, an 8-year-old German shepherd, was promoted, Escondido police Lt. Eric Skaja said. Jena is the first police dog in department history to achieve the rank of detective.

Police dogs are often retired after five or six years due to the rigorous nature of their work, but Jena didn’t seem ready to turn in her badge. The dog, which is specially trained in narcotics detection, will assist other detectives by sniffing out drugs – a less physically strenuous responsibility than patrol.

The news may have been a bit tongue-in-cheek, but having a highly trained police canine assigned to investigations has real benefits, Skaja said. Police dogs have busy schedules, the lieutenant said, and they aren’t always available when detectives want to bring them on an operation.

“Canines train all the time, at least once a week,” Skaja said. “Can you imagine having one of your employees gone 25 percent of the time?”

And when they aren’t training, their patrol duties keep them busy. Promoting Jena to detective means that the department will have a highly trained police dog on hand whenever it needs her, and detectives are constantly working on cases, Skaja said. “She’s going to be busy.”

While all patrol dogs are trained to search for suspects and evidence, help apprehend suspects and protect officers, Jenna can sniff out drugs, a specialty that requires intensive training.

“She’s not our only drug dog, but she’s probably one of the most successful drug dogs we’ve had,” Skaja said.
Another factor in her promotion: Her handler was promoted to detective as well, and now can continue to work with his canine partner.

When she’s not sniffing out drugs, “she’s going to hang out,” Skaja said. “This is what Jena loves to do.”
Escondido police Chief Craig Carter said in a statement he is thrilled Jena will continue to serve the department, but added that he that told her there were no current vacancies in his top brass.

The full article can be found here.

Below is some more information on police dogs
A police dog, often referred to in North America as a “K-9” (which is a homophone of canine), is a dog that is trained specifically to assistpolice and other law-enforcement personnel in their work, such as searching for drugs and explosives, searching for lost people, looking for crime scene evidence, and protecting their handlers. Police dogs must remember several hand and verbal commands.[1] The most commonly used breed is the German Shepherd.
In many jurisdictions, the intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a felony.[2]
Dogs have been used for law enforcement since at least the Middle Ages. Money was then set aside in the villages for the upkeep of the parish constable’s bloodhounds that were used for hunting down outlaws. During King Henry I of England’s reign, the constable in charge of the Royal Palaces would ‘maintain the stables, kennels and mews, and be responsible for protecting and policing the whole court’. In France, dogs were used in the 14th century in St. Malo. Bloodhounds used in Scotland were known as “Slough dogs” – the word “Sleuth”, (meaning detective) was derived from this.

The rapid urbanization of London in the 19th century caused a massive increase in law and disorder – a problem that was far too great to be dealt with by the existing law enforcement of the time. As a result private associations were formed to help combat crime. Night watchmen were employed to guard premises with many of these individuals provided with firearms and dogs to protect themselves from the criminal elements.

Modern era

Bloodhounds used by Sir Charles Warren to track down the serial killerJack The Ripper in the 1880s.

One of the first real attempts to use dogs to aid police in the detection of crime and the apprehension of a criminal was made in 1869 by theCommissioner of the Metropolitan Police of London, Sir Charles Warren. Warren’s repeated failures at identifying and apprehending the serial killer Jack the Ripper had earned him much vilification from the press, including being denounced for not using bloodhounds to track the killer. He soon had two bloodhounds trained for the performance of a simple tracking test from the scene of another of the killer’s crimes. The results were far from satisfactory, with one of the hounds biting the Commissioner and both dogs later running off, requiring a police search to find them.[3]

It was in Continental Europe that dogs were first used on a large scale. Police in Paris began using dogs against roaming criminal gangs at night, but it was the police department in Ghent, Belgium that introduced the first organized police dog service program in 1899.[4] These methods soon spread to Austria-Hungary and Germany; in the latter the first scientific developments in the field took place with experiments in dog breeding and training. The German police selected the German Shepherd Dog as the ideal breed for police work and opened up the first dog training school in 1920 in Greenheide.[5] The dogs were systematically trained in obedience to their officers and tracking and attacking criminals.

In Britain, the North Eastern Railway Police were the first to use police dogs in 1908 to put a stop to theft from the docks in Hull. By 1910, railway police forces were experimenting with other breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, and German Shepherds.[6]

Specialized police dogs

  • Search and rescue dog (SAR) – This dog is used to locate suspects or find missing people or objects. Bloodhounds are often used for this task.
  • Detection dog or explosive-sniffing dog – Some dogs are used to detect illicit substances such as drugs or explosives which may be carried on a person in their effects. In many countries, Beagles are used in airports to sniff the baggage for items that are not permitted; due to their friendly nature and appearance, the Beagle does not worry most passengers.[7]
  • Arson dogs – Some dogs are trained to pick up on traces of accelerants at sites of suspected arson.
  • Cadaver dogs – Some dogs are trained in detecting the odor of decomposing bodies. Dogs’ noses are so sensitive that they are even capable of detecting bodies that are under running water[8] Pioneering work was done by Dr. Debra Komar (University of Alberta) in Association with the RCMP Civilian Search Dog Association[9] in this area. The result was the development of training techniques that resulted in near 100% accuracy rates.[10] Her research has been published in the Journal of Forensic Anthropology.

Popular breeds

German Shepherd police dog

Some breeds are used to enforce public order by chasing and holding suspects, or detaining suspects by the threat of being released, either by direct apprehension or a method known as Bark and Hold. Police dogs, such as the German Shepherd Dog, have many qualities that make them applicable for the job. A successful police dog should be intelligent, aggressive, strong, and have a good sense of smell. Many police dogs that are chosen are male and remain unneutered to maintain their aggressive behavior, however there are female police dogs which are used for rescue, tracking, and locating bombs and drugs.[11] German Shepherd Dogs and Belgian Malinois are most commonly used because of their availability; however other dog breeds have also contributed, such as Dutch Shepherds, Rottweilers[citation needed]Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Bouvier des Flandres, Giant Schnauzers, and Airedale Terriers

Notable police dog breeds are:

  • American Pitbull Terrier (search and rescue/tracking, attack dog, locating bombs, drugs.)
  • Beagle (locating bombs, drugs. Used worldwide.)
  • Belgian Malinois (protection, attack dog, locating IEDs, locating evidence, locating drugs, prisoner transport, human tracking.)
  • Bloodhound (odor-specific ID, tracking, locating bombs, drugs, evidence.)
  • Doberman Pinscher (protection, attack dog)
  • Dutch Shepherd (protection, attack dog)
  • Springer Spaniel (locating bombs, drugs)
  • German Shepherd Dog (protection, attack dog, ground based tracking and air based tracking, locating human remains, locating drugs, locating IEDs, locating evidence)
  • Labrador Retriever (locating bombs, drugs)

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The members of the Escondido Police Department are committed to providing quality service and fostering partnerships with all community members through ongoing daily, direct, and positive contacts. We are committed to being responsive to community needs, promoting mutual trust, and delivering a quality of service that meets or exceeds the standards and expectations of the people we serve.

Our objective is to improve the quality of life through a police-community partnership that promotes and sustains safe neighborhoods by addressing the underlying causes of crime and fear. Our mission embodies a community-based philosophy that empowers all employees and community members to share ownership, commitment, and accountability to solving problems and keeping the public safe and secure.

Mission Statement

Providing excellent police services at every opportunity through:

  • Professional Conduct
  • Community Outreach
  • Crime Reduction

The earliest records of an Escondido law enforcement agency are from 1888, when the City became incorporated. The “Police Department” consisted of one lawman who held the title of City Marshal. He also acted as the dog catcher, street superintendent, gas street lamp lighter, and then plumber. The first Chief of Police, Andrew F. “Andy” Andreasen, was appointed in 1928. That is when the Department began to develop in size, with the rigid enforcement of the Volstead Act (prohibition of liquor) in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

During Lloyd “Lefty” Mitchell’s tenure as Chief of Police (1947-1956), the Police Department became departmentalized and modernized. Mitchell instituted training programs and a merit system for advancements in rank and pay, setting high professional standards. During this time, Escondido’s Mounted Police Posse was formed, and the Escondido Police Motorcycle Drill Team was organized, starting with nine motorcycles.

The exact location of Escondido’s first jail is open to question. Most of those arrested in the early days were held for a short time for minor infractions. Those sentenced to long terms were transferred to the County jail in San Diego.

When the City Hall was established on the south side of Grand Avenue, between Juniper and Kalmia streets, a small building in the rear served as the City jail until the late 1930s. A small room in the northwest corner of City Hall was the Police Department headquarters. When there were three people in the room, it was crowded. In 1938, when the new City Hall at 100 Valley Boulevard was constructed of adobe, a police headquarters and jail were built shortly afterward, also of adobe, north of and immediately adjacent to the City Hall. The headquarters room wasn’t much larger, but there were a few more cells.

Plans for a new Police Department at 700 West Grand Avenue, the first split from City Hall, were prepared by Robert D. Wolford, assistant police chief. He was in charge of two phases of construction. The first phase was building of the lower floor. It was built and occupied in 1976. In 1982, a second story was added.

The Department has come a long way since then in the amount of employees as well as services provided. The Escondido Police Department has 170 sworn police personnel and 69 non-sworn support personnel who provide a variety of services to the citizens of Escondido.

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