WINDHOEK – The Namibian Police Canine Unit – in short K9 Unit – that is tasked with detecting crimes, explosives, drugs and criminals amongst others, has its existence founded on the Namibian Police Act, 19 of 1990 Section 13, which spells out its mandate.
The specialised unit trains its dogs in one or more disciplines such as narcotic detection of illegal substances such as mandrax, cocaine, cannabis, for which training takes about 85 to 120 days. Other dogs are trained for detection of military and commercial explosives for which training takes about 85 to 132 days.
Dogs are also trained to detect and track human-scented trails and also to track fleeing/dangerous suspects, and protection of the handler. This training takes about 120 days.
The commander of the K9 Unit, Inspector Titus Benjamin, described the unit as one of the most crucial sections in the police given the successes recorded involving these dogs. But he also spoke of challenges the unit currently faces that include continuous training and high maintenance costs such as adequate nutrition for the dogs.
He estimates that during the training the police force spends about N$85 000 on each dog.
“Training these dogs is very costly and it doesn’t just involve training a particular dog alone but its handler, all together,’’ Benjamin revealed. He added that these costs include accommodation for student handlers, travelling expenses, food and training equipment.
A dog handler should train together with the dog to enable him/her to learn the dog’s different traits and most importantly to enhance communication between the two.
The handler will choose which language is convenient for him and his dog, which should be learnt from the start of the training.
Police purchase their preferred breed from South Africa, preferably one-year old puppies.
Benjamin emphasised the huge shortage of police dogs because of budget cuts. He mentioned that in the past few years the police did not purchase nor train any dog, making it difficult for the unit to facilitate its operational duties.
He said the available dogs are getting old hence the need to purchase more dogs given the necessary responsibility these dogs have for the force and the country at large.
Benjamin said the budget cuts have also affected the provision of medication and nutritional meals.
‘’’The dogs are now entitled to a reduced meal per day and the dipping is also reduced from once a week to after two weeks,’’ he stressed. He further said the police dogs are not on medical aid nor do they have ranks. Thus they are usually taken to state veterinary clinics for medical treatment.
2019-11-08 07:28:32 10 months ago