The Thomasville Police Department’s K-9 unit recently returned from the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) Annual K9 Competition and Certifications, where they earned high marks in all phases of competition. The event, held February 12-15th in Petal, Mississippi included events in areas such as Obedience, Agility, Article Search, Building Search, Narcotics Detection, and Criminal Apprehension.
The annual re-certification is a requirement of the USPCA which ensures that the K9 and handler are trained and prepared for duty. “I am extremely proud of the performance of our officers and their K-9’s during this important re-certification event,” said Thomasville Police Chief John Letteney. “The annual re-certification provides us an evaluation on the fundamentals of training and technique of our K9 units while securing documentation that verifies that the teams are able to effectively perform their duties.”
The two TPD K-9 teams consisted of K-9 Handler Branden Kent and K-9 Koda, and K-9 Handler Haley Jensen and K-9 Kaiko. The teams competed against more than 40 other units from the states of Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas. Handler Kent and K-9 Koda took home second place in the very competitive Agility Field Trials. TPD’s handlers and K-9s also combined with two other K-9 teams to place third in the Four-Man Patrol Team category. “I am very proud of the manner that both Kaiko and Koda performed,” said K-9 handler Branden Kent. “They both demonstrated the high level of skills that they apply to their craft every day while protecting our community.”
K-9 Handler Haley Jensen believes that a consistent positive mentality and determination to excel during training is a key to the success of the TPD K-9 units. “It is hard work every day, we have to be receptive to constantly learning and improving,” said Jensen. “Although it is not easy, it is very rewarding. I truly believe that while serving the Thomasville community, Kent and I are living out our dream jobs.”
Chief Letteney says that TPD K-9 units have established themselves as valuable assets for the safety of the local community and the entire region. “Since its implementation in the late 1980s our K-9 teams have established a tradition of excellence that is well respected throughout Southwest Georgia,” said Letteney. “They have been responsible for tracking and apprehending violent felony fugitives, seizing drugs, arresting drug dealers, and recovering weapons used in crimes while providing mutual aid for other law enforcement agencies when requested.”
“In the short amount of time I have served as Chief of the TPD, I have learned what a source of pride our K-9 teams provide not only for the department but also for our community,” said Letteney. “Last year, two young ladies from our community spearheaded a fundraiser to purchase ballistics vests for our K-9s. That act of generosity is a symbol of the incredible community relations impact that our K-9s have developed, especially with our youth, while serving and protecting the community.”