K-9 Unit

Canine Unit Grad
The Cheltenham Township Police K-9 Unit was first formed in 1976 with the help of Federal Grant money, the support of the Police Staff, and the support of the Community. Since the Unit's inception, the Police Department has supported the use of Police Canines to aid in the department’s crime detection and crime prevention efforts.

At present, we have four Police K-9 teams assigned to the Patrol Division, working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in the Township. Our K-9 teams are also available to assist other Police Departments when help is needed. Putting the best K-9 team together involves a through selection process.

The Officers: All of our K-9 handlers are full-time Cheltenham Police Officers. The Officers are chosen through a selection process that takes into consideration: their ability to meet the physical demands of a K9 handler’s duties, their service records and length of employment, their dependability and their proactive approach to Policing, their ability to interact with the community and maintain positive relations, and their ability to handle the additional responsibility of caring and maintaining a police K-9. Most importantly, the Officer must have a love of dogs and be willing to make a long-term commitment to the K-9 Unit. 

The Canines: The Cheltenham Police Department has chosen to utilize German Shepherd dogs in our K9 Unit, because they have historically proven themselves as effective Police Dogs. The German Shepherd dog is distinguished because of its loyalty, courage, and ability to absorb and retain training to perform a number of special services. These dogs have inherited traits that make them: even tempered, poised, and confident. These dogs also have well developed instinctive drives, and an ability to create a strong bond with the handler. We look for a dog with a high play drive. This will help us in training the dog for police work.  It is these traits that we look for, when we select a Police service dog. Traditionally, our department relied on the public to donate dogs for Police work. However, in the past few years we have opted to deal with breeders who offer and guarantee dogs with the traits and physical attributes necessary for Police work. Our dogs also must pass through medical screening to ensure that they are fit for duty.
   
The Training: Each dog and K-9 Officer is known as a “team” and each relies on the other to successfully complete their duty assignment. A trained Police K9 team is a very useful tool in law enforcement. Each of our K-9 teams, partake in some of the most intense training in Police work. Presently, all of our K-9 teams are trained for Police work at the Philadelphia Police K-9 Training Unit. The training period for basic “Patrol” training is a minimum of 14 weeks (560 hours). The dogs are trained in obedience, agility, building searches, field searches, tracking, article searches, and criminal apprehension. The training is focused on developing the dog’s natural abilities to play and hunt, and then teaching the dog to use those abilities to perform specifics tasks for police work.   

In addition to the basic Patrol training, all of our current K-9 teams are crossed trained as special detector dogs. Three of our K-9 teams are crossed trained in narcotics detection, and one K-9 is cross- trained in explosive detection. Crossing training is a 10-week training program.  

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to request a public K-9 demonstration, please contact the K-9 Unit Supervisor, Sgt. John Slavin at [email protected], or call 215 885-1600 ext. 482
       
       
       
       
      Cheltenham Township   ~   8230 Old York Road   ~   Elkins Park, PA 19027
      Hours: Monday-Friday, 8AM-4:30PM
      Phone: 215-887-1000   ~   Fax: 215-887-1561
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