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Title Operations / Policy A-14
Effective Date 5-18-07
Rescinds 3-1-05
Subject Canine Unit
Purpose To establish policy for the operation, training, certification, and deployment of canine teams at The University of Texas at Austin.
Scope This directive applies to commissioned officers.
CALEA 41.1.4, 46.2.5

It is the policy of this department to use canine teams to provide specialized services to support the mission, goals and objectives of The University of Texas at Austin. Recognizing that canines have a superior sense of smell and hearing, the trained law enforcement canine is a valuable supplement to police staffing. Utilization of canines requires adherence to procedures that properly control their use of force potential and that channel their specialized capabilities into legally acceptable crime prevention and control activities.

  1. Definitions:
    1. Canine Team: A canine handler and their assigned canine.
  2. Procedures:
    1. Canine teams are available on a 24-hour on-call basis and may be called upon to perform the following duties:
      1. Conduct building searches for offenders in hidining;
      2. Assist in the arrest or prevent the escape of serious or violent offenders;
      3. Protect officers or others from death or serious bodily injury;
      4. Area searches to locate suspects or lost or missing persons;
      5. Detection of hidden instruments or evidence of a crime;
      6. Detect the presence of explosives;
      7. Establish probable cause for a search warrant;
      8. Assist with the execution of a search warrant;
      9. Community relations / policing demonstrations;
      10. Searches prior to special events on campus:
    2. Canine teams should not be used to respond to minor calls for service but may engage in special assignments not listed above with prior approval of the Chief of Police.
    3. The canine handler will evaluate each situation and determine if deployment of a canine is appropriate. A supervisor sufficiently apprised of the situation may instruct the handler to deploy or not deploy the canine.
    4. Canine team assistance shall be requested from patrol officers through an immediate supervisor to the communication center. Communication center personnel shall forward pertinent information concerning the incident to the available canine team or shift commander.
    5. UTPD will assist local law enforcement agencies when that assistance does not jeopardize the safety or security of the University community. The following guidelines shall be followed when dispatching a canine team off campus:
      1. The shift commander shall be notified for approval;
      2. The shift commander will keep records of the times the canine unit is dispatched to assist another agency;
      3. The canine handler shall submit an incident report;
      4. Deployment the canine team shall fall within the guidelines of this policy;
      5. The Chief of Police will periodically review deployment of the canine team off campus to ensure proper usage:
  3. Qualification, Training and Deployment:
    1. Applicants for canine handler must have:
      1. At least two years of uniform patrol experience with satisfactory work performance, disciplinary and medical leave records;
      2. A willingness, together with other family members, to care for and house the canine at the officer’s residence with a secure outdoor area for the canine that conforms with departmental requirements;
      3. A strong desire to work with canines and willingness to care for and train the animal:
    2. The Chief of Police shall be responsible for selection of canine handlers.
    3. All canines must meet established certification requirements.
    4. New canine handlers must complete the prescribed canine training course and successfully meet all course requirements.
    5. Training and deployment:
      1. All canine handlers shall attend weekly maintenance training with their assigned canine;
      2. Training and deployment reports shall be submitted monthly for inclusion in the individual canine’s permanent file for audit and review purposes and maintained by the canine supervisor;
      3. Monthly canine activity reports shall be submitted to the Chief of Police by the canine handler supervisor for review;
      4. All canine handlers shall certify in assigned duties at least once annually;
      5. Canine handler training reports, field deployment reports and detector reports shall be maintained in the canine handler supervisor’s files:
  4. Canine Bites and Injuries:
    1. Officers may only use that degree of force that is reasonably necessary to apprehend or secure a suspect as governed by the department’s use of force policy. In all instances where a canine is deployed in a tactical situation, a canine incident report shall be submitted. Whenever a canine bites an individual, whether or not in the line-of-duty, the handler shall:
      1. Summon shift supervisor to the scene and notify the shift commander and Chief of Police.
      2. Examine the affected area to determine the seriousness of the bite or injury.
      3. Obtain immediate medical treatment for the person. Medical personnel should examine the affected area irrespective of the perceived seriousness of the bite or injury.
      4. Take color photographs of the affected area if possible prior to and following medical treatment. Photos taken before treatment may be used in court. Photos taken immediately following treatment with a clean background, meaning no visible blood, will achieve the same documentation, but will provide a more accurate account of the actual injury.
      5. Complete a use of force report whenever it has been alleged that a canine has bitten or otherwise injured an individual;
        1. The report must detail the circumstances surrounding the incident, the identity of the individual involved and any witnesses, the extent of injuries if known, and measures taken in response to the incident;
        2. The original report shall be filed in accordance with the department’s use of force policy with witness statements attached:
  5. Building Searches for Suspects in Hiding:
    1. A primary use of departmental canines is for locating suspects in buildings or related structures where search by officers would create an unnecessary risk. These searches shall be governed by the following:
      1. The building perimeter shall be secured by patrol personnel.
      2. Whenever possible, the building coordinator or Dean should be contacted to determine whether there may be occupants or others in the building and to ascertain the building’s layout.
      3. When a canine building search is anticipated, a preliminary search by officers should not be conducted, as this will interfere with the canine’s ability to discriminate scents.
      4. The on-scene supervisor shall also take the following steps in preparation for the canine search:
        1. Evacuate all occupants, workers or others from the facility;
        2. When practical or if possible request that all air conditioning heating or other air-blowing systems be shut off so as not to interfere with the canine’s scent. This may not always be possible:
      5. Upon entrance to the building all exits should be secured and communications limited to those of a tactical nature.
      6. The canine should be unleashed during a building search unless there is an imminent risk of injury to innocent persons within the facility.
      7. When the canine is unleashed during a building search, the handler shall search the building in small sections giving verbal warning, as a new section is about to be searched.
      8. The canine should not be used to search facilities that contain substances potentially harmful to the animal unless overriding risk to human life is present.
      9. Before commencing the search, the handler shall loudly announce that there are police officers on the premises and that a trained police canine will be released if the individual does not surrender. A reasonable amount of time shall be allowed for the suspect to respond. This warning shall be repeated on each level of all multilevel structures.
      10. When apprehending suspects in these or related circumstances, canines shall be commanded to disengage as soon as the suspect is subdued or readily complies with officer direction.
      11. Suspects shall not be transported in the same vehicle with a law enforcement canine unless alternative transportation is not available and immediate transport is essential for safety, health, or security reasons.
  6. Crowd Control:
    1. Canine teams will not be used for crowd control.
  7. Searches for People and/or Evidence:
    1. Canines are available to search for suspects or missing persons, or to locate evidence that is reasonably believed to be abandoned or hidden in a specific area. Such searches are subject to the following:
      1. When officers are pursuing suspects and contact with the suspect is lost, the officer, prior to summoning a canine team shall:
        1. Contact a supervisor to meet them at the scene;
        2. Stop and pinpoint the location where the suspect was last seen;
        3. Shut off engines of vehicles in the area if possible;
        4. Avoid vehicle or foot movement in the area where the suspect or subject was last seen;
        5. Turn on overhead light bars:
      2. Canines used to search for persons should remain on a leash of sufficient length to provide a reasonable measure of safety to the subject of the search without compromising the canine’s searching abilities.
      3. Canine teams should not be used to locate small children unless there is a reasonable suspicion of foul play or a belief that serious bodily harm or death will occur if the child is not located immediately.
      4. Canine teams should not be used to apprehend anyone suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol if no other crime is involved, or the mentally disturbed if no crime is involved. Canines can and have been used to prevent suicide.
      5. On-scene supervisory personnel shall:
        1. Secure the perimeter of the area to be searched;
        2. Secure the integrity of the area to be searched by keeping all personnel out of the area;
        3. Protect all items of clothing that will be used for scent from being handled:
  8. Canine Use, Care and Housing:
    1. Canines shall not be used for breeding, participation in shows, field trials, exhibitions or other demonstrations, or for off-duty employment unless authorized by the Chief of Police.
    2. Canine handler must have at a minimum the following facilities at their residence to house the canine:
      1. A fenced yard at least ten feet by ten with a six-foot tall fence in good condition that will prevent escape including a locking gate;
      2. A shelter within the yard that will protect the canine from the elements;
      3. The facilities must be inspected and approved by the patrol commander prior to housing the canine;
      4. Any deviation from the above requirements must be accompanied by written permission from the Chief of Police:
    3. Canine handlers are personally responsible for the daily care and feeding of their animal to include;
      1. Maintenance and cleaning of the kennel and yard area where the canine is housed;
      2. Provision of food, water and general diet maintenance as prescribed by the departmentally authorized veterinarian;
      3. Grooming on a daily basis, or more often as required by weather, working conditions or other factors;
      4. Daily exercise (police canines are not permitted to run at large);
      5. General medical attention and maintenance of health care records;
      6. Canine handlers will be compensated at an overtime rate of .50/hr. x 365 days a year:
    4. Where the handler is unable to perform these and related duties due to illness, injury or leave:
      1. Another canine handler may be assigned to temporarily care for the dog;
      2. The canine may be housed in a departmentally approved kennel when the handler is unavailable:
    5. Teasing, agitating or roughhousing with a police canine is strictly prohibited unless performed as part of a training exercise.
    6. Handlers shall not permit anyone to pet or hug their canine without their prior permission and immediate supervision. Should a civilian express a desire to do so, they should be informed that police canines are serious working dogs and that they can be dangerous if improperly approached.
  9. Resignation or Termination of Handler:
    1. Canine shall be returned to the department for appropriate disposition as determined by the Chief of Police.
    2. All related equipment shall be returned to the department.
  10. Explosive Training Aids:
    1. Explosive training aids will be stored in an ATF approved storage magazine.
    2. The unit commander and canine handlers are the only persons authorized to have keys to the storage magazine.
    3. Removal and return of explosive training aids will be logged.
    4. The canine handler shall forward to the unit commander an inventory of the explosive training aids every 30 days.
  11. Equipment / Vehicle Operation and Control:
    1. Canine vehicles assigned to canine officers will be used for transporting the canine, responding to calls for service, training, or any other assignment as determined by the canine officer’s supervisor. These vehicles will also be utilized in transporting the canine to and from the officer’s private residence and/or for transportation of the animal in emergency and non-emergency situations to designated animal clinics. Canine handlers are responsible for the operation and maintenance of canine vehicles in accordance with department policy.
    2. Canine vehicles will be conspicuously marked.
    3. Officers should be familiar with the owner’s manual for safe operation.
    4. Vehicles will not be used in “off-road driving” except in an emergency.
    5. Canine vehicles will be operated only by assigned canine officers unless approved by the canine officer’s supervisor.
    6. Officers will strictly adhere to this department’s pursuit policy.
    7. Because of the unique nature of the canine vehicles and the fact that the must be self contained canine officers will:
      1. Fuel vehicles before ending their tour of duty;
      2. Replace forms and equipment as needed before ending their tour of duty;
      3. Lock their vehicles at all times when they are away from the unit and equipment:
  12. Canine vehicles will be conspicuously marked and equipped with:
    1. Exterior emergency front and rear lights and siren;
    2. Spotlight;
    3. Alley lights;
    4. Public address system;
    5. Tinted Windows;
    6. Temperature monitoring system that includes safety devices to prevent the overheating and possible injury/death of the canine;
    7. A “bail out” system which allows the handler to, by remote control, release the canine from the vehicle;
    8. If the vehicle to be used for canine is a SUV, it should be equipped with rear air conditioning;
    9. Canine vehicles should be equipped with dual batteries, a high amp alternator, and an energy management system that maintains the canine’s safety equipment in the event of a vehicle and/or electric failure:
  13. Personal Equipment / Apparel:
    1. All officers will adhere to this department’s uniform dress code.
    2. In addition to the department issue uniform, canine officers are authorized to wear the following:
      1. BDU pants and shirts, black in color and 100% cotton;
      2. Black ten inch lace up all leather boots;
      3. Sam Brown belt and duty gear made of an anti-static material;
      4. Jump suit, black in color, made of an anti-static material and appropriately marked to be used for canine call outs;
      5. Black leather jacket:
    3. Canine handlers will be issued necessary equipment to perform their duties as deemed appropriate by the officer’s supervisor. Equipment will consist of, but not be limited to:
      1. Collars - five types;
      2. Leashes or various types, materials and lengths;
      3. Harnesses - three types;
      4. Bite sleeves of various type, including a “trials jacket” use with the hidden sleeve;
      5. A bite suit;
      6. Scratch pants;
      7. Muzzles - two types;
      8. Bowls - two types;
      9. Brushes - four types;
      10. Nail cutter;
      11. Kongs;
      12. Balls;
      13. Leather gloves;
      14. Tugs - three sizes;
      15. Explosives, explosives magazine and portable explosives magazine