The Eugene Police Department has four officers and a sergeant who work with canine partners. These K-9s are generalist or "tracking" dogs. The dogs are used to locate suspects who have run from the scene of a crime, find suspects hiding inside buildings, and search spaces that would be dangerous for a human officer to enter. With their keen senses, these highly trained dogs can swiftly locate hiding suspects and be effective in dark conditions. They can operate where human officers cannot or where officers’ personal safety would be at substantial risk.
K-9 officers also provide backup for patrol officers and assist with arrests. Members of the team are scheduled to work at night, when darkness helps suspects hide more effectively from human eyes and when the dogs are less likely to overheat, but they are regularly called out during daytime incidents when needed. These special teams are also an inter-agency resource, with K-9 teams able to be temporarily “loaned” between Eugene, Springfield, Lane County and other local law enforcement agencies. When a K-9 is needed for a high-priority incident and none is on-duty in that department, one may be dispatched from a neighboring agency.
A great hit with both children and adults, the K-9s regularly appear at community relations and crime prevention events to give demonstrations and interact with community members.