Annual K-9 certification and training hosted by APD

The Amarillo Police Department is hosting the annual training and certification process for area K-9 units.ã??

Units from across the Texas Panhandle and Tucumcari, as well as prison dogs from Tennessee, Colorado and Oklahoma are involved. Theyâ??re training at the East Campus of Amarillo College. Both Patrol Dogs, which tend to be German Shepherds or Belgian Malanois, and drug dogs are being trained. Primarily, the certification is important for court purposes. The reliability of the dogs must be scrutinized. K-9 handler Corporal Cody Lavery of the Amarillo Police Department says, "K-9s are so reliable.ã?? A K-9 alert on the vehicle is Probable Cause right there.ã?? We can search the vehicle.ã?? Thatâ??s how reliable the court believes those dogs are." Randall Sims, the 47th District Attorney agrees. "Thereâ??s plenty of successful history behind that." On the other hand, Defense Attorney Jeff Blackburn disagrees "We have no way of knowing right now whether they are very reliable. Weâ??ve tried in cases to get records on these dogs. They tend to be spotty sometimes." Dogs can make false alerts, but no charges are filed if nothingâ??s found.

Lavery says his dogâ??s reliability is 99.62%. He says for court records itâ??s important dogs donâ??t slip too far below the 90s. Blackburn says, "The reason law enforcement is happy about it because you can say later on whatever it is you want about what the dog did. Thereâ??s no way to cross-examine the dog, no way to know what the dog did." Sims says, "Just the sniff itself and just the alert itself doesnâ??t mean you can prosecute someoneâ?¦you have to find the substance actually there to prosecute someone."