Shawnee planning to purchase new police K-9 training materials

The Shawnee Police Department plans to use about $12,000 from a federal grant to purchase K-9 training materials such as search boxes, rubber training arms, a K-9 first aid kit and training sleeves. The search boxes will be added to the police department's K-9 training facility. Photo courtesy Shawnee Police Department.

Shawnee is seeking federal grant funding to support the purchase of K-9 training materials for the city’s police department.

The Shawnee City Council on Aug. 10 voted 7-0 to enter a cooperative agreement with Overland Park and Olathe to jointly apply for federal funds through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Councilmember Mike Kemmling was absent.

Funding from the federal program supports state and local programs in law enforcement, courts, corrections and drug treatment.

The Shawnee Police Department plans to use about $12,000 from the roughly $69,000 grant to purchase K-9 training materials such as search boxes, rubber training arms, a K-9 first aid kit and training sleeves. Olathe, which is leading the grant application process, will receive about $22,000, and Overland Park will receive $35,000.

Maj. Jim Baker of the Shawnee Police Department said the new search boxes purchased from the federal grant will be located at the Shawnee Police K-9 training area.

“The equipment we will be purchasing with the grant will allow our trainers to work on honing their K-9 partner’s skills in tracking and finding people that are hidden in the enclosures, while still keeping the decoys from being bit,” Baker said in an email. “The equipment will afford the dogs the most realistic training experience possible without using a bite suit.”

Police Capt. Shaun Miller reported in a city memo that the equipment will conceal human decoys in a box with a locking mechanism, which prevents the K-9 from biting the unsuited decoy in the box.

“This equipment is utilized without a full bite suit which trains the K-9 to search for human scent, not a heavily scented bite suit,” Miller noted.

The Shawnee Police Department had used a donation to purchase a K-9 obedience course in 2018, but the course alone doesn’t have the necessary requirements for a K-9 to obtain full patrol certification, according to city documents. As such, the city police department would have to utilize the National Police Canine Association for the required annual certification.

The standard for field search certification is an area with eight total search boxes; Lenexa and Kansas City, Missouri, are the only cities that have these search boxes, and juggling work schedules among nearly a dozen agencies that utilize the two locations has become difficult, according to city documents.