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MSU police have the largest K-9 unit in the Lansing area and say the dogs are like family

Posted at 4:35 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 16:35:02-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan State University Police Department houses the largest K-9 unit in the Lansing area, and officials say the dogs are like family members who are always there to provide moral and professional support and always ready to work.

The unit has eight dogs.

“Three of our dogs are Labrador retrievers they body explosives,” said Sgt. Adam Atkinson. “The other five are dual purpose explosive detecting dogs.”

Major K-9 Dog
Major K-9 Dog

Each dog is trained consistently by a police officer with the department.

“It takes a lot in the beginning to get these dogs trained,” said officer Gary Heckman. “A lot a lot of work and the harder you work the easier it gets later on.”

“The MSU Police Department takes their training very seriously and the training of the dogs as well,” Atkinson said. “We get two days a month to train the dogs for eight hours. Us who have labs get an additional 12-hour day to train the dogs. Also, we have to train our dogs on our shifts too, anywhere from an hour to two hours.”

Even though duties for each dog vary by the day, Atkinson, who is also a handler, said there’s never a dull moment.

Sgt. Atkinson with K-9 friend
Sgt. Atkinson with K-9 friend

“On an average day they can be responding to larceny, different community engagement events, and conducting traffic stops,” he said. “They may also be called to be utilized to assist a different agency.”

And while each dog comes along with a wet nose and wagging tail, some people on the force say the department couldn’t function without them.

“I just don’t know how to be a cop without a dog,” Heckman said.

Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Mikayla Temple

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