By Jim Donnelly
The City of Coconut Creek is the site of The United States Police Canine Association [USPCA] Region 1 Field Trials on March 19-24, bringing more than 100 police K-9 teams from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
“People think the dogs are just here to bite people, and that’s just not right,” said Scotty Leamon, spokesman for the Coconut Creek Police Department. “This is a pretty prestigious event. It’s a regional event, and it will bring in the best of the best.”
The USPCA is the leading police canine certification in the industry, emphasizing obedience, agility, and attention to detail in training. Each event will test the dog’s ability, communication with its handler, and overall skill.
The free events hosted by the Coconut Creek Police will take place at Monarch High School and Sable Pines and Tradewinds Parks.
The judges will be looking at how well and how fast the dog obeys its handler. For instance, in one of the competitions, Leamon said there would be a box search where they’re looking for a suspect and have four or five boxes out in the field. Someone will get in one of those boxes, and then the dog will have to find them.
“Once the dog locates the box the person is in, the dog will sit down,” he said.
A USPCA certification means that the police department’s K-9 is among the most disciplined in the nation. The dogs will also be tested to locate narcotics, explosives, electronics, and guns.
Leamon addressed K-9s’ importance for the city, including officer safety, tracking narcotics, and apprehension of “the bad guys.”
“There’s not much they don’t do in the department, really, when you think about it.”
Event organizers hope to showcase all that Coconut Creek offers and attract the participants to return to the city, said.
“Having 100 teams and their families visiting the city for a week utilizing the hotels, shops, and restaurants is something they might not have done without this competition, so hopefully, this helps participants discover Coconut Creek and Broward County.”
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- A Coral Springs resident for over 30 years, Jim Donnelly has had a 40-year career as a photographer, videographer, and editor for South Florida affiliate news stations, along with CNN, ESPN, ABC Sports and News, NBC Sports and News, Fox News, and CBS. Donnelly has won several awards, including EMMY’s, for his team coverage. Currently, he owns Image Masters Photography and works as a Realtor.
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