An Inside Look At Mansfield PD's K9 Unit

  • 6/8/2018 5:33:12 PM
  • WMFD Staff
  • Local News

MANSFIELD, OH - You may already be aware that the Mansfield Police Department has a K9 Unit, but how much do you know about what they can do or what goes into keeping the unit afloat?

The dogs in the K9 Unit have a specialized skill set that covers bite-work, handler protection, tracking, article searches, and they can detect the presence of six different types of drugs: heroin, powder cocaine/crack cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, and ecstasy. 

The team currently consists of four dogs; three are German Shepards and one is a Belgian Malinois Shepard Mix. The department gets their dogs from a place called Von der Haus Gill German Shepards in Wapakoneta, while Von der Haus actually acquires their canines from Europe.

We caught up with SWAT Team Member-turned-K9 Officer Korey Kaufman and his K9 partner, Denise. She's a German Shepard who originally came from Czechoslovakia. She learned all of her commands in German, but Officer Kaufman says he has used so much English with her that she can now understand many English commands.

Denise actually lives with Officer Kaufman along with his wife and children. He says while she may be all-business at work, as soon as they pull into his driveway after their shift is over she's just like any other family dog, and he likes to keep it that way. He doesn't do any extensive training with her when she's "off the clock" because he wants her to know that being home means she doesn't have to be on high-alert.

However, she still has plenty of opportunities to keep her skills sharp and get in some solid training time. Every other Thursday they attend K9 training, along with the Richland County Sheriff's Office, Mount Gilead Police Department, Sunbury Police Department, and Marion County Police. The officers try to switch up the scenarios often to keep the dogs on their toes and to make sure they never get used to one specific training environment. 

The K9 Unit is not necessarily utilized for every single police call. According to Officer Kaufman, they are typically only called out for situations involving the threat of violence or a history of violence. The K9 Officer's cruiser is filled with a variety of different collars and harnesses to accommodate the wide range of environments the dogs may encounter. For example, Denise has a harness specifically designated for tracking situations and she even has stab-resistant body armor that can cost close to $1100.

Additionally, the K9 Unit serves not only the city of Mansfield but surrounding areas as well.

What most people may not realize, is that Mansfield's K9 Unit is run almost entirely off of citizen donations. 

"This is their unit, too," Officer Kaufman said of local citizens, "They're paying for our unit, basically, so without them, we don't have a K9 Unit. We would just be regular patrolmen." He stressed that any donations that are delivered to the Mansfield Police Department will specifically be used to support the K9s, as long as the donations are clearly marked for that purpose. 

There are many area businesses that have helped the Unit over the years. For example, the Pet Supplies Plus location in Ontario offers them a large discount on food for the canines and Lexington's Racquet Club has donated countless tennis balls for the dogs. Additionally, the K9 Unit knows they can take their animals to Dr. Phillips' veterinary office in Mansfield for any health issues that may arise.

Officer Kaufman, who used to be a SWAT Team Member, says he doesn't see himself ever switching departments again. 

"To me, it's just the best job in the police department," he said, while confidently stating that he will retire as a K9 Officer.

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