US Marijuana Party

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

California dogs to become bulletproof

Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa

More and more US police dogs are enjoying similar protection as their human partners in fighting crime.

The latest group are the dogs of one Southern California town who will be strutting the streets this week with the new bulletproof vests.

Prompted by the shooting death of a local police dog last year, an anonymous donor in the city of Glendale, 16 kilometers (10 miles) north of Los Angeles, gave funds to bulletproof the four dogs of his community's K-9 unit.

"People tend to think that the police and the military use dogs as something expendable, but we don't believe that at all," Sargeant Tom Lorenz of the Glendale Police Department told AFP.

Police dogs are trained for narcotics investigations, search and rescue, explosive detection, and to track and catch suspects.

"Our dogs increase our efficiency," said Lorenz. "They save us countless man hours in search situations where we can send in one of our dogs with their keen sense of smell."

Last week, one of the Glendale dogs' sharp nose sniffed out half a million dollars of opium during a routine traffic stop. The 21-month-old German Shepherd named "Yudy" was hailed with the biggest opium bust ever in the city.

At a time when police departments across the United States are experiencing increasing difficulty wooing new recruits into careers in law enforcement, trained dogs are valuable tools.

"We are all hurting for recruitment, we all would like more police officers, but the dogs definitely make things easier, and they will all be equipped with kevlar protection," said Lorenz.


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