Four-Legged Heroes: Ready to Protect and Serve
Scott McMilian’s job has gone to the dogs, and he’s okay with that. In fact, he has no shame reflex in admitting that he actually enjoys it.
An officer in the Lee’s Summit Police Department, McMilian has been serving the community on the force since 1997. His duties often require long hours at times when most of us are fast asleep. Fortunately, he has a hard-working partner working right alongside him, keeping a steady pace while still managing to wag his tail.
McMilian works alongside Enzo, a Belgian Malinois that has been specifically trained for a cornucopia of duties within the police force. He clocks in just like McMilian, sometimes logging over-time hours but never complaining in the process. Working a 40-50 hour week is par for the course for this four-legged, crime fighting K-9, but his efforts are not without their rewards.
“As long as he gets some play time or gets to enjoy the occasional game of tug-of-war with an officer in a fight suit, he feels compensated in full,” says McMilian, noting that Enzo lives with McMilian and his family and, once retired, will continue staying with the family. “Theses dogs definitely become part of our family and are often quite protective of us.”
Enzo is the seventh dog to serve on the force and has definitely earned his stripes. He is joined in his line of duty with Griff, another German shepherd who works alongside Officer Steve Grubb.
Initially, the dogs are trained by someone who is hired to choose and test each dog, and the training process can last from four to six months, depending on the dog.
“Once trained, we meet with the dog and the trainer for about four to six weeks so that we can learn to work together,” explains McMilian. “From that point on, it becomes our job to train the dog on a daily basis. The training never ends, for the dogs and for us.”
Enzo and Griff are trained for numerous purposes and have developed respectable resumes in the process.
“Vehicle sniffs for other officers who stop a car and need a search conducted are one of the biggest things these dogs do,” says McMilian.
Other duties the dogs assume include human tracking, whether a perpetrator on the loose or a missing person; area searches; finding drugs such as methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine and heroin; building searches; article searches; and lost property searches. (Yes, Enzo and Griff have done their fair share of finding lost keys, flashlights and cell phones.)
What is most interesting about these K-9s is the impact they have had with respect to the use of force when pursuing a suspect.
“Since I have been working with Enzo, I have had less uses of force compared to what I had before he came along,” explains McMilian. “When a dogs shows up, people listen and behave more, as they know they cannot fight him or out run him. This can essentially reduce the danger in a situation.”
Most of these working dogs begin their jobs at roughly one and a half to two years of age and enjoy an average career of about five to eight years. Along with their handlers, they are certified annually after successfully completing specific designated tasks.
So, do Enzo and Griff lead the pack when it comes to job performance within the department?
“Let’s just say that if they had thumbs, I’d be out of a job,” laughs McMilian, who jokes that probably the only thing these dogs can’t do is drive a car.
For more information on the City of Lee’s Summit K-9 teams, go online to CityOfLS.net.