If you noticed an influx of police vehicles driving through North Vernon last week, there is no cause for alarm. The Muscatatuck Urban Training Center was hosting a Police K-9 training conference, organized by the Cincinnati Police, with approximately 110 K-9 teams from around the country, some of which traveled from as far away as Florida, Louisiana and Washington State.

North Vernon Police Department K-9 Officer Shane Trepanier and his partner, Zobi, participated in the conference, taking advantage of the nearby proximity of MUTC.

“Any kind of training is good,” said Officer Trepanier, who has been with the NVPD since 2016 but has been a K-9 officer since 2018.

The K-9 team of Sgt. Cody Low and Axel from the Jennings County Sheriff’s Office also participated in the training.

The teams could sign up for different training tactics for each day, from apprehension work to drawing weapons to obedience commands. It was expressed that K-9 handlers’ first job is to be cop, with the addition of being responsible for a thinking, breathing animal.

“Dogs can think, but they can’t reason. You need to be their reason,” Officer Donald Meece said to the handlers. Officer Meece is with the Cincinnati Police Department and was one of the trainers for the week.

Multitasking is an important asset of a K-9 officer. When dealing with a criminal, the handler has to be aware of his own safety and the safety of his fellow officers, be alert to potential danger all while keeping his dog under control and ready to act accordingly. Essentially, he is doing double the work of any other officer.

“I love K-9 handlers and the K-9’s,” said Sheriff Kenny Freeman, who participated in some of the fire range training offered at the conference. “[The K-9’s] bring something else to the game. They have skills we don’t have. They can save your life.”

Training conferences like this are a great way to hone current skills while hopefully learning something new and useful.