Paw and Order: Fighting crime with the City’s K9 Unit

29 Sep 2022 in Where We Govern

On Thursday, 29 September, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and Alderman JP Smith visited the Metro Police K-9 unit where our four-legged officers learn how to put their best paw forward as part of the City’s crime fighting team.

The purpose of the visit was to discuss the expansion of this unit with more dogs, and a new training and kennel facility.

Over the last year, the K-9 Unit has taken part in more than 500 operations focused on drugs, firearms, explosives, copper theft, missing persons and more with 192 drug-related drug arrests over the same period.

‘This unit is a great example of how the City has invested in building a more capable and effective City police service. In the years ahead we will grow the size of our K-9 unit. Our Metro Police K-9 Unit is regularly requested to join local SAPS operations, their Anti-Gang Unit on joint operations, and the City’s own enforcement services. This unit has become a key part of our efforts to make Cape Town safer for all. Its success gives weight to the call we have been making for the devolution of more policing powers to the City.’

‘We are implementing a record R5,4bn safety budget this year and deploying an additional 230 officers. We are doing everything within our limited ability and resources to make Cape Town safer – but we can do more to make residents feel safer through our Law Enforcement and Metro Police officers being empowered by Section 99 of the Constitution to create a fully-fledged City police service,’ said Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

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Training scope for K9 Unit:

Training the dogs takes place over a three-month period in which they are tested on different disciplines, and assessed for their individual temperament which determines whether they are assigned to detect narcotics or explosives. During this time they are also bonding with their handler to form a lasting relationship of trust.

Once this phase of training is complete and the canine member becomes an active recruit, these skills are regularly repeated over time to ensure the quality of detection is maintained.

‘The ongoing and undisputed value of our loyal K9s have secured a permanent position within the ranks of our Metro Police, but more so within the hearts of Cape Town’s citizens. The public’s heartfelt appreciation for these service animals is perhaps only outpaced by the love and trust that exists between each handler and their assigned K9 partner. We have already begun costing exercises to determine how best we are able to expand the unit, to allow us to offer even greater support to these various departments,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

Being able to detect substances remains a skill throughout their life – even when it’s time for a K9 member to retire – unless their senses are affected by medical issues.