Mid Missouri officers get K9 training certification

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BOONE COUNTY - Two mid-Missouri officers will help expand K-9 police units in the area. Officer Chris Smith of the Boone County Sheriff's Department and Scott Hedrick of the Columbia Police Department earned their K-9 educator certifcation through the Missouri Police Canine Association.

Smith and Hedrick are the first officers in mid-Missouri to earn this certification. It will allow them to teach and certify prospective K-9 police units in the areas of drug detection, tracking humans and controlled agression.

Smith and Hedrick are able to certify officers in Boone County, Columbia and throughout the state of Missouri.

"The certification eliminates the need to use an outside source to train the dogs, so this will save the department thousands of dollars,"Officer Smith of the Boone County Sheriff's Department said.

The Boone County Sheriff's department used to send K-9 unit officers in training to handlers in Southeast Missouri, which cost anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000.

Smith completed 160 hours of training with dogs and handlers. Upon completing the training, he was required to take a written test, and interview with the Missouri Police Canine Assocation board.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department paid for Smith's certification and training.

"We are opening a K-9 training center here at the sheriff's department, so that we can help other smaller agencies around mid-Missouri do their training with us so that they don't have to send their handlers to other parts of the state, or out of state," Smith said.

He adds, the training center will help fund the Boone County K-9 unit as well as save other agencies money. Training services will become available to other agencies at the beginning of 2015.

"Dog's are a great force multiplier and they're the only tool we can deploy on someone, and stop it and recall it," said Hedrick.

Hedrick said the Columbia Police Department hopes to have two more dogs join the 4 dog K-9 unit within the next couple of years.

"It also comes with so much gratification for like when you find that missing person, or that load of narcotics, or you help a patrol person find a gun thrown out of a crime scene, it's huge, you just can't even imagine," Hedrick said.