K-9 Units, SWAT Get Chance to Train Together

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Crime is on the rise across North Dakota and the situations are becoming more complex for specialized law enforcement teams. K-9 and SWAT teams from several agencies are training at Cottonwood Park in Bismarck.

It is a rare opportunity for these tactical groups to train together and prepare for just about any situation.

Two instructors from Pennsylvania and Connecticut flew to Bismarck to train special response teams to work together and find out ways to maximize its resources.

Last year, the West Dakota SWAT Team responded to nine incidents, and Bismarck Police's K-9 Unit conducted more than 370 searches.

K-9's have become soldiers on the front line of crime fighting.

"It's a lot more use for the dogs than people think, that it's just drugs and chasing after somebody. There's a lot more uses and we're trying to tap into that world," said Sgt. Lyle Sinclair, Bismarck Police Department.

A master trainer says well trained dogs can play an important role in high-risk calls.

"We're putting the least amount of officers that we have in the kill zone. So our survivability increases and we also reduce our liability because we have a less lethal option," said Bill Nott, master trainer, North American Police Dog Work Association.

These dogs have to remain calm and work through stressful situations because victims and officers lives depend on them.

"A dog can search away from the team. He can give them a warning way ahead of time of an ambush," Nott said.

Handlers and officers from Bismarck, Minot, Dickinson, Fargo and Billings, Mont., say they're learning from each other.

"It's a small state. We all get along together. It's competitive, but we try to bring out the best in each other," Sinclair said.

Sinclar says it's important for K-9 and SWAT units to train together so they're prepared to work as one group in any emergency.