CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

K-9 officers and their handlers win a top award in Las Vegas

Apr 4, 2024, 12:00 PM

taylorsville police k-9 officers shown. A resolution recognizing this week as National Police Week ...

Taylorsville Police Officers. A resolution recognizing this week as National Police Week has passed. (from left to right) Officer C.J. Moore and his K-9 partner Turbo, Officer Haden Hoffman and K-9 Ghost and Sgt. Jacob Palmer and his K-9 partner, Koda are pictured. (Taylorsville Police Department)

(Taylorsville Police Department)

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — The Taylorsville Police Department can claim they’ve got the area’s Top-Dogs – and their handlers are pretty good too. Three Taylorsville Police K-9 dogs and their handlers recently won the Top Agency Award at the 32nd annual Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s K-9 Trials.

Taylorsville K-9 Sgt. Jacob Palmer said 50 different teams from California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah competed in the event.

The K-9 unit competed in several reality-based scenarios including agility, area search, building search, tactical obedience, handler protection and narcotics detection.

“We took Top Agency. The Top Agency goes to the agency whose competing patrol dog teams had the highest overall average score of all categories,”  said Palmer.

Palmer said the competition in Vegas had the teams doing everything they might do during a regular patrol.

“Our dogs are all what we call dual-purpose patrol and narcotics dogs. So they are trained to track like area searches and building searches for humans and on the other side of it. They are trying to detect the odor of illegal narcotics and they are deployed on traffic stops for vehicle sniffs and inside residential homes or businesses for drugs just as well,” Palmer said.

He added that even though they call the dogs “dual purpose,” they’re really multi-purpose dogs.

“They pretty much do everything.”

Taylorsville Police K-9 Officers (from left to right) Haden Hoffman, C.J. Moore and Sgt. Jacob Palmer

Taylorsville Police K-9 Officers (from left to right) Haden Hoffman, C.J. Moore and Sgt. Jacob Palmer were recognized by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s K-9 Trials. (Taylorsville Police Department)

The Taylorsville Police K-9 unit did what it does best

Palmer said the competition tasked the dogs with what they were trained to do in the field. 

“…basically give an announcement, deploying the dog tactically, clearing the building as we go. Once the dog detects the odor of a human… they’ll indicate by barking.”

Additionally, Palmer said there was an outdoor scenario involving vehicles, boxes and other items. The dog had to systematically search, locate and indicate the decoy.

Palmer and his K-9 partner, Koda competed alongside Officer C.J. Moore and his K-9 partner Turbo, as well as Officer Haden Hoffman and K-9 Ghost.

Taylorsville Police k-9 Officer Haden Hoffman and his dog Ghost

Taylorsville Police Officer Haden Hoffman and K-9 Ghost. (Taylorsville Police Department)

According to Palmer, he and Koda train a minimum of eight hours per week.

“Generally, we will train for the first two hours when we begin our shift and then sometimes throughout the night. We’ll set up some type of training scenario out on the street where basically, like it could be an area search or a drug sniff. Anything we can do to acclimate the dog to any kind of environment that they might encounter.”

According to Palmer, all the K-9 teams in the Salt Lake Valley work together.

“So even though we as Taylorsville took home top agency, a lot of it has to do with the other agencies around the valley as well, because not only do we deploy together, we also trained together as well. So, it’s kind of like a big family within Salt Lake County where we train and work together and help each other be successful.”

Taylorsville Police Sgt. Jacob Palmer and his K-9 partner, Koda. (Taylorsville Police Department)

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K-9 officers and their handlers win a top award in Las Vegas