I am taking a six week Citizen's Academy class offered by the Spokane County Sheriff's Office. Anyone can sign up and we spend every Thursday evening learning a little bit about everything from gangs to sex crimes to property crimes. Last night we got a visit from K9 Brax and his handler, Deputy Steve Stipe. We were told to stand off to the side, keep quiet and be still while Brax searched a poorly lit portion of the former University City Mall for Deputy Travis Pendell. Pendell, who runs the Citizen's Academy most nights, volunteered to wear a bite sleeve and hide in the darkened room. Brax took off at a dead run and found Pendell quickly, his nails scrabbling on the concrete floor as he went in for the bite. It was interesting to watch the dog work.
Brax is Stipe's second dog and he's a patrol dog. Patrol dog handlers have to complete 700 hours of training before they can be certified and the dogs and handlers are required to do 16 hours of maintenance training every month. Stipe said he gives Brax a little bit of training every day. "I try to stump him," Stipe said. "I try to keep him on his toes."
Stipe said it was amazing how "85 pounds of fangs and fur" can turn the most argumentative and defiant suspect into a compliant one.
Still to come: sessions on Air 1, forensics and SWAT. This class is offered at least once a year. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in learning more about how the Sheriff's Office works and what it does.