UNLV’s University Police Services (UPD) has regularly made use of its K9 program since its inception, both for the university and in collaboration with other police departments in the Las Vegas Valley.
K9 units provide a wide range of special advantages to the police departments they work for that normal officers cannot always provide to the same level. K9 units’ utility ranges from subject apprehension, to search and rescue operations to drug and bomb detection, accoding to multiple sources.
“When you have a canine, you get to have more in-depth police work,” said Trey Moses, a K9 officer for UNLV’s UPD, “You could work special events. I have a bomb dog, so there’s always events going on, and we’ll make sure the building or an event is secured before it starts.”
Moses recalls that he and his partner, a chocolate Labrador Retriever named Layla, responded to multiple bomb threats in the past few months. They also regularly work special events at UNLV, and sometimes at CSN. The police department ensures that a venue is safe before any special event that expects crowds of people to be present.
Layla’s specification means that she and Moses also work with other police departments in the Las Vegas Valley. Moses has worked with nearly every department in the area, including the Clark County School District to the Las Vegas Metro Police.
Working with such a wide variety of departments also helped Moses learn new and better methods for an activity that takes up a lot of his time off the clock: training with Layla.
The amount of training and dedication required of a K9 unit poses a challenge specific to the unit.
“It’s very time consuming, you can’t be into it just to be into it. You actually have to love the special assignment dog,” Moses said. “It’s a lot of time, especially on my off days, because training is very, very essential. On my off days, I do training and just tend to the dog and take care of them. It’s a lot of work.”
Like all police officers, K9 units are put in direct danger due to the nature of the profession. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit that records police deaths in the U.S., there are already at least five K9 units killed in the line duty this year. The causes of death for the dogs range from combat, such as shooting or stabbing, to more dog specific risk, such as being in hot cars.
Despite the added workload and potential risks, Moses still enjoys working in the K9 unit.
“She’s like my best friend,” Moses said. “It’s just like I get to work with my best friend every day.”