Story by Lourice Angie
The 2018 USPCA Region 7 Certification Trials, hosted by the Warwick Police Department K9 Unit was held at the Warwick Town Park on Union Corners Rd. in Warwick from Fri., Jun. 8 to Sun., Jun. 10.
Region 7 consists of canine teams from New York and Connecticut areas. The United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) has seven main objectives and purposes that are designed to unite and standardize all agencies utilizing the services of the canine as an aid in the prevention and detection of crime. Throughout the year, the USPCA conducts regional certification trials. These trials not only serve as a certification but are also an intense competition determining which team in the region is the best.
In the United States there are thousands of canine units across the country. Both the canine and the handler must be trained and certified by a recognized canine association for one or more disciplines. The training may come from in-house agency training or from an outside facility. One of the largest and well known in the world is the USPCA, which is comprised of 26 regions covering the entire U.S.
Most canine and handler teams, with a few exceptions, train to be the best possible. Being at the top of the game ensures more apprehensions, seized narcotics and explosives discovered which, in the end, creates a safer environment for everyone.
Warwick Hosts Certification Trials
This year, Warwick Police Department K9 Officer Kevin Halsey assisted in hosting the competition trials. The weather was perfect and there was a large turnout of people and families.
When it comes to police canines, most of what the public sees or hears on the news is often depicted negatively, showing a suspect with a bite wound and many times the media portrays police officers as being out of control with their K9 partners. With a larger public attendance at these types of events, people get to see the professionalism of the handlers firsthand and the ability of the canines. The Police Dogs seen at airports, train stations and in police cruisers are most likely dogs that have been trained and certified by the USPCA and can include a diversity of breeds including German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Retrievers, Labradors, Border Collies, and Bloodhounds.
A total of 27 Police service dogs from the Warwick PD K9 Unit, NYPD Transit, MTA, City of Newburgh, New Windsor, Middletown, South Jersey, Albany County, and the Orange County Sheriffs Office were tested on agility, obedience, suspect and article search, and criminal apprehension with and without gunfire by a group of nine selected judges and a chief judge from Region 3.
On Sunday the teams were awarded first, second and third place overall and individually. A final score of 490 points was required in order to be certified.
One of the judges, John ‘Woody’ Woodworth, a retired Transit K9 Sergeant who also kept the crowd entertained and helped keep people informed, said that the event had grown very much throughout the years.
“I enjoy this very much. It’s great to see so many people come out and see what we do. A lot of these guys are great men and they have been doing this for many years. Thank you to the Warwick PD K9 Unit and to everyone who is here showing support,” said Woodworth.
After competing at the regional level and getting recognized as the best in the region, most teams go on to compete at a higher level. Canine units that have competed in the regional trials can move on to the National Police Dog Field Trials if they have attained a qualifying score. To win the National Trials and become the top patrol dog is quite the accomplishment and gives the unit or agency a great sense of pride and, of course, bragging rights. Each year the National Trials are held at a different location. Member agencies that are interested in hosting the National Trials submit a request to USPCA for consideration.
Make a Donation to the USPCA
The Police Canine Association is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Donations play a direct role in the advancement and safety of K9 working teams in the NY/CT region. All donations are tax deductible and go directly toward buying K9 bulletproof vests, specific K9 first aid kits and police K9 educational training seminars.
For more information or to make a donation securely using PayPal, visit www.uspca7.org.