HPD’s Canine Team Earns Top Dog Award at Regional Field Competition
Published on May 20, 2015
One of the Huntsville Police Department’s Canine teams took top honors at the United States Police Canine Association’s 2015 regional field trials in April. Axle, and his partner, Officer Chad Schrader, brought home the Top Dog Combined Patrol and Narcotics Cup. Considered one of the most difficult awards to win, the cup encompasses high scores in both patrol work and narcotics detection. Axle scored 845.5 out of a possible 900 points in the combined events to finish in first place.
“Our K-9 teams frequently stand out in the annual certification process,” said Police Chief Lewis Morris. “They are critical to our crime fighting force and were largely responsible for helping us recover more than $700,000 in narcotics and property in 2014 – one of the biggest years we’ve had.”
Axle and Schrader were among a host of canine units from Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia who participated in this year’s regional competition in Morgan County. Canine handlers and their partners compete each year with the USPCA to validate their training and certification, which allows them to work on the streets.
The Huntsville Police Canine Unit is one of the longest continuous units in existence. Instituted in 1963 with the purchase of “King,” the Canine Unit is home to 10 handlers and their K-9 partners. Eight of the dogs are certified in patrol and narcotics detection and two of the dogs are certified as explosive detection dogs. The certification process requires that patrol and narcotics teams are proficient in both patrol and narcotics venues.
“These dogs are invaluable to our men and women in uniform,” said Sgt. Joe Jenkins, HPD Canine Supervisor. “The dogs can go places and do things the officers don’t have to and nobody gets hurt. If you have an offender hiding in the bushes and he won’t come out, the safest way to get him out is to send in a dog.”
Jenkins says most of the Canine Unit officers have been with the team for more than a decade and they love the work they do. Handlers take their dogs home with them at night, allowing them to develop a close bond. Axle and Schrader have been together for the past seven years.
“Axle is one of the most loyal partners I could ever have,” said Schrader. “He is a well-rounded dog, but his personality is purely professional. No one is going to reach down and pet him, and that’s what we want. Axle is very good at everything we need him to be good at on the street., and that means he listens well and will bite a bad guy in a second.”