K9 Unit



France first used dogs with armed citizens to patrol the city of Saint Malo in the 1300s. The first law enforcement training school for dogs and their handlers was established in Belgium in 1899. The first U.S. law enforcement K-9 teams were established in 1907, in South Orange, New Jersey and in the New York City Police Department. Since then, there have been 3,250 police K-9 programs in the U.S. with 7,000 K-9 teams.

After two years of research and planning, the Southfield Police Department established a Canine Unit. The unit began in December 1994, with one K-9 team. Since its inception the unit has continued to expand in our continued efforts to provide the best service possible to the citizens of our community.

Building Searches

are usually done when there is a burglar alarm, a building door is found open, or a window is found broken possibly from a person who broke into the building with the intent to steal property located in the building. It is dangerous for a police officer(s) to search a building. The dogs are better equipped to locate a burglary suspect without putting police officers in danger. The handler warns anyone in the building to come out before sending the dog inside.

Area Searches 

A dog can search a designated area faster and more thoroughly then an officer can. The K-9 teams do area searches to locate lost children, evidence, articles, or in some cases, deceased persons.

Aggression Control

Article Searches 

Narcotics Detection

The dog's sense of smell is over 400,000 times greater than a human being. For this reason, they are especially suited to the detection of narcotics. The Southfield Police Department's dogs are trained to locate heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine, and marijuana. The dogs scratch at the location when they locate any of the controlled substance. They can locate small amounts as well as large amounts of narcotics. When the team locates narcotics, they can in most incidents, confiscate for forfeiture money, cars, and other valuables which are deemed proceeds from drug dealing. This money is used to further advance narcotic enforcement.
Tracking can be used in two situations. Most often the canine team uses the dog's smelling ability to track the path and apprehend the criminal that escaped on foot. Sometimes the team finds articles dropped by the criminal or establishes other investigative leads that can assist the detectives in their investigation. The canine team can also be used to locate lost children or adults.


The dogs are trained in the basic obedience skills such as heel, sit, bark, lay down, etc. The dogs are further trained to protect their handler and patrol vehicle. When the handler is out of the car, his K-9 partner never takes his eye off the handler and will immediately come to the rescue of his handler/partner when necessary.

Each K-9 unit typically does over 300 K-9 related runs a year, of that approximately 150 vehicle sweeps are done with about 85 narcotics finds per dog per year. The K-9 units also assist in numerous tracks and building searches.