“I Get to Work with My Best Friend”
Allen Police Department has three K-9 teams. Officer Matt Koehrsen has been an officer with Allen PD for 12 years and on the K-9 unit four years. His canine is a five-year-old German Shepherd named Arko. Koehrsen said that the Allen K-9 unit makes narcotics arrests nightly. He said that Arco once led them to the seizure of 130 pills of illegal drugs. The dogs are trained to find marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Koehrsen said that he and Arco located three robbery suspects after given the description of the suspects and a perimeter was established. He said that two of the suspects were together when located and one was separate. He said the suspects were compliant when found.
Aaron Bond has been an Allen police officer seven years and on the K-9 unit two years. His canine is a six-year-old Dutch Shepherd named Knox. Bond said that after a shooting, Knox led them to a suspect’s hand gun that had been tossed into a field from a vehicle. Officer Keith White has been with Allen PD for seven years and on the K9 unit for three years. His canine is a two year old German Shepherd named Obi. White said that during the same incident when the handgun was found, Obi led them to narcotics that had also been tossed by the suspect. The narcotics were found in the opposite end of the search area from where the gun was found.
Sergeant Billy Holbert was hired by Allen PD in 1997. He was appointed a K9 handler in 1999. Over the years he has handled three canines. He is now the trainer for the K-9 unit. He said he became a part of the K-9 unit because he loves dogs. He finds being on the front line to always be exciting. He said he likes being the first one looking for the bad guys. Bond agreed with Holbert’s reasons and added that his family has always been in police work and he always wanted to be on the K-9 unit. Koehrsen said he enjoys the training aspect, being involved in high risk incidents and, “I get to go to work with my best friend.” White has been a police officer for 20 years. He said being on the K-9 unit allowed him to do something he hadn’t done before. He echoes the sentiment of working with his best friend and adds, “It’s nice to have someone in the car to talk to.”
Allen police department’s training facility is located in Lucas at Estates Parkway and Country Club Road. The facility was built in 2004 by members of the K-9 unit and one other officer. Holbert said it was originally funded by donations. It is a state of the art training facility. Allen K-9 unit, along with other agencies, trains here weekly. Allen K-9 hosts schools that bring in trainers from across the nation. They also hold national competitions here.
Regarding the training that an officer and a canine undergo before being a part of the K-9 team, Holbert said, “Canines are purchased “green”, with no training. Canines are placed with a handler and trained in-house. (It) usually takes 8-10 weeks to complete training, at which time they certify in patrol work and narcotic detection. Once they certify as a K-9 team, they begin their tour of duty.” When a dog isn’t on duty, it spends time at home with the handler’s family and resting. Holbert said, “Basically, being a dog!”
He explains the usefulness of a K-9 team, “All APD K-9 units are dual purpose, meaning patrol and narcotic detection. Narcotic detection is to locate and alert to the presence of illegal narcotics. Patrol includes obedience, criminal apprehension, building search, area search, article search and tracking. The canine is a great detection tool and can take a considerable amount of danger away from the officers.”
If a person is interested in becoming a K-9 officer Holbert said, “First establish yourself as a good police officer with good work ethics. Learn all you can about dogs, train with your K-9 unit and do some decoy work. Stay in good physical condition and make good decisions.” You also must have a residence that has room for a large kennel in the backyard.
Based on incident demand, the Allen K-9 unit works the night shift. They respond to calls from other police agencies when requested.
Caption: Allen K-9 unit (left to right) Officer Aaron Bond with Knox, Officer Matt Koehrsen with Arko and Officer Keith White with Obi. (Not pictured) Sergeant Billy Holbert is the K-9 unit trainer.