The Topeka Police Departments K-9 program started in 1960. At 40-plus years, it is one of the oldest K-9 Units in the United States.
During the tenure of the program the Department has utilized German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, Czech Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers and Belgian Malinois for training as K-9 partners.
The dogs are selected and trained by the Kansas Highway Patrol Police Service Dog Unit.
The dogs and the Officer Handlers undergo an intensive 10-week training program to become proficient at their work. They are taught obedience, patrol skills, along with narcotic and explosive detection skills. After their 10-week basic school the dogs are certified under the International Police Dog Standard.
K-9 teams perform many tasks to assist police officers in their jobs:
- Tracking – scent detection of human scent and following the footsteps of an individual who has left an area on foot to search for lost persons.
- Building searches to locate individuals who may be hiding inside a structure.
- Assist in the capture of dangerous criminals by trailing their path of travel.
- Conduct area searches to detect fleeing hiding criminals.
- Assist in evidence recovery by detecting a human scent which has been transferred to items recently handled by humans. Items can be located in any indoors or outdoors setting.
- Perform article searches after a crime has occurred such as searching for shell casings after a shooting in areas sometimes as large as a football field.
- Back up their officer partners on all types of patrol calls.
- Assist with narcotics detection. The narcotics detection trained K-9s are often called to search vehicles and houses when requested by an officer and backed by probable cause for the presence of illegal drugs or contraband. The drug dogs are trained to detect marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin odors.
- Protect their assigned handler.
- Trained to search and detect explosive devices, including bombs.
If you would like to schedule a demonstration to learn more about the K-9 Unit and their functions please contact the Topeka Police Department, SGT Mike Ahlstedt, 785-368-9495.
School Resource Officer Program
Topeka's School Resource Officer (SRO) program was implemented in the 1994-1995 school year as part of the Topeka Police Department's focus on helping maintain a safe learning environment for students in the Topeka Public School District.
A Topeka Police Department School Resource Officer fills many different roles within their schools:
- A proactive law enforcement officer dealing with law related issues on campus.
- Provides students with a positive role model, and a balanced realistic view of law enforcement.
- Serves as an educational resource for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. The SRO goes into the classroom as a guest instructor to teach law-related topics.
- A member of the administrative team, assisting in solving problems and serving on the school's crisis management team.
The Topeka Police Department SRO's practice a "triad" concept within the schools. This concept has been widely accepted as the model for school based officers. The triad concept divides the SRO's responsibilities into three areas: Teacher, Counselor, and Law Enforcement Officer.
The Motorcycle Unit requires veteran officers who are able to complete an 80 hour Police Motorcycle Operators Course. The course is pass/fail only, and it is often regarded as one of the most difficult courses available, both mentally and physically. The skills gained through passing the course allow a new Motor Officer to ride for traffic enforcement, traffic control, and all types of slow speed maneuvering. Once an officer is accepted into the unit, that officer will undergo a year or more of intense side-by-side training with a senior officer in order to learn all of the many different functions of a Motorcycle Police Officer.
The Motorcycle Unit is primarily responsible for conducting self-initiated traffic enforcement, such as car stops for speeding, red light violations, seat belt enforcement, etc. While this takes up a great deal of their time, they are also responsible for planning and organizing all special events that come through the Police Department. The Motorcycle Unit works many different types of events, including parades, runs and walks, community events, demonstrations, and school functions. The Motor Unit is also responsible for handling a great deal of traffic related service requests, such as complaints about parking, speeding, or requests for deployment of the speed trailer.
The Topeka Police Motorcycle Unit is one of the premier motor units in the Midwest. As a member of the Heartland Police Motorcycle Association, the TPD Motors have attended many different training environments, including numerous motorcycle “rodeos”, or competitions. In the past several years, TPD has won numerous top-three awards in many different categories, and they continue to grow and get more recognition on a national level. The Motor Unit has competed in numerous competitions in Kansas City, Omaha, and soon, Austin, TX. They have also travelled to Washington, D.C. to represent the Topeka Police Department during National Police Week on two separate occasions.
Community Policing Unit
Attaining safer and more secure communities can only happen when a partnership exists between the police and the community it serves. To accomplish this, the Topeka Police Department works toward:
- Educating the public to improve perception of safety
- Developing community partnerships and investing in core neighborhoods
- Increasing civic engagement and public participation
- Expanding the use of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED)
- Promoting the use of community-oriented policing and problem solving (COPPS)
- Continuing the partnership with the Neighborhood Relations Department to address blight and neighborhood safety