BROWARD (CBSMiami) – From tracking dangerous suspects, locating narcotics or helping to find missing, endangered people, BSO’s K-9 Unit is a highly visible, exceptionally trained and successful tool for the organization.
CBS4 photojournalist Rafael Murciano went inside the K-9 unit on Wednesday to learn about the wide-ranging and vital role these dogs play in protecting residents.READ MORE: Coral Gables Man Refuses To Sell Family House Swallowed By Massive Development
The K-9 Unit is not a one-size-fits-all unit. There are different types of K-9s trained to carry out specific functions across several divisions and departments at BSO.
For instance, there are Patrol K-9s that help capture fleeing suspects. There are 18 dogs who work as Patrol K9s. They are used as a less lethal tool when apprehending a fleeing or dangerous suspect.
According to national standards, less than 30% of K-9 apprehensions should result in a K-9 bite or contact with a suspect. In 2020, BSO’s bite ratio in its Patrol K-9 Unit was 7.5%, much lower than the national standard.
There are also bloodhounds that help locate missing persons.READ MORE: Postal Worker Shot At In Florida City; Suspect In Custody
BSO has three bloodhounds that search for lost children, the elderly, people with special needs and people living with mental illness. Bloodhounds have superior tracking skills, and handlers provide the bloodhound the scent of the individual they’re trying to locate, and the dog goes to work. These dogs are also cross trained as therapy dogs, to provide a level of comfort to those in need.
Then there are the K-9s that are trained to sniff out bombs.
BSO has five certified K-9 teams that work in their Bomb Squad, which respond to actual or suspected hazardous device and explosive threat calls across Broward County. In 2020, the BSO Bomb Squad deployed 220 times. In those deployments, Bomb Squad K-9s were used in at least 60 of those instances.
There are also eight specially trained K-9 teams that make up BSO’s explosive ordinance detection team at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Each year, these K-9 teams protect the tens of millions of passengers that pass through FLL, one of the busiest airports in the nation.
In BSO’s Strategic Investigations Division (SID), there are 14 narcotics detection K-9s which help uncover illegal drugs in a variety of locations.MORE NEWS: Double Shooting Investigated In NW Miami
In 2020, these K-9s inspected more than 26,000 areas and located more than 450 kilograms of marijuana, 24 kilograms of cocaine, 9.7 kilograms of methamphetamine and 2.5 kilograms of heroin. They also helped recover 53 handguns, 1 shotgun and more than 300 rounds of ammunition. The dogs were responsible for more than 150 arrests and assisted in seizing more than $5 million in U.S. currency.