Piko, Logan’s K9, and his handler, Officer Ray Ohl, recertified in May at the State of Nebraska qualifying course in Lincoln, Neb., alongside K9 units from Lancaster County, South Sioux City, and Lincoln, all in Nebraska.
According to Logan Police Chief Zach Cavalier, K9 units must recertify annually, and the local team was honored to receive the invitation to do so in Lincoln.
Cavalier, a former K9 handler, would test and become certified at the same course.
Cavalier stated, “This was a great training and great networking with outside agencies.”
Ohl added that the course was the most difficult and challenging recertification course he has attended. More than 60 percent of the time, Ohl said, teams fail this course and one team did.
Teams were graded separately by two judges in seven scenarios with multiple divisions in each one. If either the handler or the dog scores below a certain threshold, the team fails.
The scenarios include a luggage sniff with six suitcases, only two of which contain narcotics; a residential sniff of two rooms, one of which has one stash and the other room contains two; a vehicle sniff with two stashes, one outside the vehicle and one inside; a business scenario with two narcotic stashes in one room; a barn stall that contains two stashes; a locker scenario; and finally a dark room, illuminated by only a flashlight with two narcotics stashes.
Piko and Ohl train on their own most of the time without a course or a helper setting up scenarios, though Cavalier said he has offered pointers when he can.
The Lincoln Police Department evaluators were impressed. Usually, small agencies fail because they don’t have the training resources larger agencies do.
“This shows how well Officer Ohl trains Piko on his own,” Cavalier said. “Not everyone who goes through that course passes. To make it through and become a certified working dog team is a big deal. In some parts of the nation, teams are not certified. This adds a level of trust for citizens, knowing that they have passed and have been certified by extensively trained evaluators.”
Though the training course was tough, Ohl recommends it for any team who wishes to become certified or recertified.
“For any handler needing to recertify, this course is arguably the best in the country,” Ohl said. “It is an honest, high standard, and reputable recertification course where performance matters. The best part – it’s free.”
Logan’s K9 program is funded solely through donations. Anyone who wishes to donate is encouraged to contact the Logan Police Department.