The Columbia Police Department started its K9 Unit in 1988 with one team, which is one handler and one dog. It is now a specialized unit that consists of nine K9 teams. Each team operates on a city wide basis and is used to support patrol operations, specialize units, and criminal investigations division, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The canines are trained in various skill sets to include tracking, drug detection, building search, criminal apprehension, and handler protection. The canines go through many hours of training with their handler to maintain the highest level of proficiency. Over the years the K9 teams have tracked and located missing persons, apprehended dangerous suspects, and have been responsible for the removal of significant amounts of illegal drugs from the communities in Columbia.
The handler attends many long and hard physical hours of training throughout his career with his canine. The partnership between the canine and his handler is one of the most unique in the police force because at the end of each shift the canine actually goes home with the handler and becomes part of the family.