Meet The Beat – Police Dog Mambo, Force Dog Unit
I’ve been excited about this Meet The Beat interview ever since I was able to get in touch with Mambo, one of our trainee police dogs, last month. I knew that he was keen on Twitter (he’s got his own account) and so thought he’d make a good candidate to answer a few questions about his role.
As you’ll read below, he hasn’t let us down and I think he’s a very, very good boy for taking the time out from his busy schedule to tell us what he gets up to with the police dog unit!
Hello there, who’s a good boy?
I just hope this gets translated from ‘woof’ to human well, and there are no misquoted remarks like you see when a footballer does interviews for a local hometown reporter in his native country when away on international duty. . . . .
So you’re training to be a police dog, how long have you been training for and what does your training involve?
I’m now nearing the end of my initial training phase. I’ve been with my puppy walker since I was 6 weeks old, and am now 11 months old. I’ll be going to a dog handler in January when I’ll be 12 months old. Hopefully I’ll be starting an initial licensing course in February, which lasts up to 12 weeks.
The initial part of my training is all about ‘environmental’ development, so going to places like shopping centres, train stations, building yards – all the places I might end up having to work in/search when I’m older. I need to be used to the noises, smells, floor surfaces, dark spaces etc of all these types of places, so they don’t ever ‘spook’ me when I’m working. We do a lot of work inside of old disused buildings.
Along the way I’m taught basic commands like any other normal dog like sit, lie, wait etc. Unfortunately though no shake a paw or roll over! I’m also taught to bark and also taught heelwork.
We also work on my agility, bite work and nose development, so will be taught how to get over things, bite correctly, find items and follow a track. It’s then all about developing these skills ready for allocation to a handler – where hopefully I’m not far off being a fully licensable dog at the age of 9-12 months.
The aim is to hit the licensing course with all the skills, main training and attributes already installed. Hopefully when I start the course I can already do all the exercises to a high standard, and it’s then just about working with my new handler to fine tune my skills and respond to situations in the way he/she would want me to out on the street.
My current dad has developed 6 dogs, so he’s now into a great routine with us all, to get us up to speed and ready for a course. All of his dogs have gone onto be fully licensed Police Dogs, so fingers crossed I keep up the good record! PD Cooper holds the record at Warwickshire Police for the fastest completion of an initial licensing course – completing a 12 weeks course in just over 5 weeks! No pressure . . . . .
Have you always wanted to be a police dog? Did it take long to apply and did you get any help filling in the application form?
I’ve always wanted to be a full Police Dog – it’s in my genes and I was literally born to do this job!
The breeding scheme at West Midlands Police is run by Dave Raymond, who has created a leading and highly commended breed scheme throughout the UK. We supply dogs to Forces all over the UK and Worldwide – our dogs have even gone to places like the Seychelles & into Samsung HQ to work.
Fortunately no forms ever need filling out by me – it’s all about my performance!!
What’s an average day like for a police dog? Are there different roles you can specialise in?
Every day is different just like for ‘human’ police officers. Some days you could be at a football match keeping a large group in order, other days chasing after a burglar or searching for a missing person.
Within the dog section itself there are various roles; general purpose (which is what I will be), explosive search dogs, drugs search dogs, cash and firearms detection dogs and also cadaver (body/blood detection) dogs. @WMPcsidogsmithy is a cadaver dog, also known as a CSI dog.
Mainly German Shepherds are used for GP (General Purpose) work, with Springer Spaniels used for the search – but we do have other types of dogs within the section like Malinois, Labrador/Retrievers, along with a 12 month old Rottweiler “Russ” who’s currently in the early stages of his development.
How can dogs help human police officers? What sort of jobs do you get called to?
Dogs can help human Police Officers as their heightened sense of smell is much better than humans. This means we are able to easily pinpoint small amounts of a trained scent. This could be a person’s scent, drugs, explosives etc.
Dogs are MUCH quicker than humans and much more agile which means we are better at chasing & catching criminals – despite the large amount of people who still think they can run away from us!!
Dogs are also able to use their nose to follow someone, instead of a human using their eyes; if they are no longer in sight a human would have effectively lost that person. But dogs can track them from the footsteps whether this be on the grass or concrete, so even though we can’t see them we still know where they have been and more importantly where they have stopped. Dogs are brilliant for a presence at public order situations like football matches or more recently in the riots. We can often deter and disperse large volatile crowds on our own, where sometimes it would take 3/4/5 or more human officers – mainly because most people do not wish to have 42 teeth planted on them!
What’s your shift pattern like? Do you have to work nights?
We work the same shifts as human officers, providing 24 hour cover to the force.
What are your favourite parts about your role and the job in general?
Ultimately my job is actually, just one big game for me. Whether it be chasing after a bad guy or tracking a missing vulnerable person – it’s all part of the game. Even in riot and public order events, although it can be scary for our human Officers, to us it is just another big game.
Added to the fact I’m out at ‘work’ playing with my best mate [my handler] – life just couldn’t be better.
Is there anything you don’t like about your job or is there anything you’d change?
It’s not great when you see & hear of fellow PD’s (or Police Officers for that matter) being injured or killed in the line of duty – however we are there to ‘Serve & Protect’ whether that be the general public or paying the ultimate price to save our handler’s life.
One good way to annoy a Police Dog is to harm (or threaten to harm) his handler – and vice versa!!
What’s it like travelling in the back of a police car at high speed? Are you ever allowed to drive?
As part of our development we spend lots of time in the car – although the speed thing is not something we can get used to until we’re with a Police handler.
I’ll be going out with my potential new handler to get me used to the car at high speed and the hustle & bustle of the blues & twos. Unfortunately we’re never allowed to drive, although we may sneak into the front seat when no ones looking!
How many hours a week do you spend doing paperwork?
Absolutely ZERO although my handler may have a little bit to do – but for me none . . . . it’s a dog’s life!!
What would you say has been the most memorable thing you’ve done or been involved with since you joined the police? I know you’re still in training, have you had a chance yet to bite a criminal’s ankles?
I’ve had a very memorable (some might say eventful!) puppy hood. I’ve had to have one of my claws taken out after slicing it pretty much off on some litter in our local Woods. And more recently I had to have a tooth taken out – although neither events have adversely affected my performance.
I’ve not yet had the chance to bite any criminals, it’s all sleeve work at the moment – but when the time comes I’m sure I’ll be ready
Human police officers have a rank structure – is there one for police dogs too?
All Police Dogs think they are ‘top dog’ – although there is no official rank or structure.
However, you can’t help but show respect to those dogs who have been out on the street catching criminals for years. There are some real life top dogs out serving our Force at the moment.
Have you ever done any of the following – dug up a bone so big you couldn’t drag it, chased a car and caught it, chased your tail and caught it?
I’m actually banned from my dad’s grass now, after my predecessor PD Ozzy decided to break pretty much every fence panel of the garden and regularly hop into the neighbour’s garden – so no digging up of bones unfortunately.
So it would have to be the tail!!!!!