Boone County is training mid-Missouri K-9 units

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COLUMBIA - The Boone County Sheriff's Department has new agreements with three mid-Missouri police and sheriff's departments to train K-9 units.

The Cooper County Sheriff's Department, Rolla Police Department and Lebanon Police Department are the latest to join the Boone County K-9 training program.

Deputy Sheriff Chris Smith, a trainer for the Boone County Sheriff's Department, said, "We have contracts for training with Boonville PD, Cooper County Sheriff's Department, Macon County Sheriff's Department, the University of Missouri Police Department, Wright City Police Department, Rolla Police Department, and Lebanon, Missouri Police Department, so our group is growing by leaps and bounds really."

Smith said starting a K-9 unit has become too expensive and Boone County's program offers a cheaper option.

"The reason that we started this was to try and provide low cost police dog training here in central Missouri because the price of training new dogs and buying new dogs has become very high, and smaller agencies don't have the funds sometimes to send their handlers out of state or away from home for several weeks at a time," Smith said. "We started this service so we could provide dogs and training to departments to try to save them a little money and to keep our K-9 program funded."

The training for a new dog and handler lasts eight weeks, and since the training is so close to home, the handlers are able to do the training in their normal work day.

Cory Lowrance, K-9 handler for the Lebanon Police Department, said the Boone County Sheriff's K-9 training program is highly recommended.

"We have had some great reviews for the Boone County Sheriff's Department for K-9 training," Lowrance said. "He came recommended by another K-9 handler that we originally trained with, and we've had a fantastic time."

Lowrance said he has already learned a lot.

"It's definitely more in depth than what I originally thought it would be," Lowrance said. "It's definitely a lot more fun than I thought it would be."

He also said he has already realized how nice it is to have a K-9 partner.

"It's great having a partner with you all the time, so if you're driving around at night, you know, you're not bored just sitting there by yourself," Lowrance said. "You've got somebody trying to lick your face or something and get your attention while you're driving down the road."

After completing the first eight week training session, there is ongoing maintenance training. Smith said the maintenance training is every few weeks over the dog's lifespan.