NAVARRE — Santa Rosa County hosted the United States Police Canine Association Region 1 Field Trials the week of Feb. 27 to March 3. Navarre High School hosted the public demonstration Thursday evening.
Police K9 units from all over Florida competed during the week in five phases of certification: obedience, agility, suspect search, article search and criminal apprehension.
Obedience demonstrates the dog staying close to the handler or obeying commands at a distance of 50 feet.
Agility includes jumping hurdles, climbing ladders and crawling under 18-inch-high objects.
For the suspect search, the dog has six boxes to search for a human hiding inside.
Article search involves the dog searching a 30-foot-by-30-foot field of grass for two objects ranging in size from a single key ring to a handgun.
In criminal apprehension, the dog must deal with a criminal in various situations, whether staying when the criminal runs, running and coming back on command, apprehending a suspect in gunfire or protecting the handler.
Chad Whitaker of the Lakeland Police Department, with his K9 Nox, was the regional champion for 2017, repeating his 2016 success, according to the USPCA1 website.
Marshal Holbrook of the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office, with his K9 Idgie, is a Santa Rosa School District resource officer who performs drug searches in schools around the county and gives drug education. They won the two-man intra-departmental team competition, along with John Duenas from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department and his K9 Axel. They had to find hidden drugs in three rooms and five vehicles. One of the rooms and three of the vehicles had no drugs, Holbrook said.
Participating K9 units came from Santa Rosa County, Escambia County, Pensacola Police Department, Foley Police Department, Gulf Shores Police Department, Lakeland Police Department, North Port Police Department, Miami Police Department, Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office, Lake Wales Police Department, Lake Alfred Police Department, Tarpon Springs Police Department, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and Patrick Air Force Base.