Top 3 Reasons K-9 Programs Should be Implemented in Jails and Prisons
By Jeremy McLaughlin
It’s no secret that correctional facilities are constantly being challenged to cut costs and are faced with depleting budgets. However, sacrificing the security of their facility in order to save money is not an option. One way that administrators can appropriately spend and save money while increasing security and safety is by appropriately introducing K-9 programs. Read on to discover the top number of reasons why canine programs should be implemented in jails and prisons.
K-9s have more benefits than just saving your facility money. The presence of these teams has been shown to reduce use-of-force incidents, prevent contraband trafficking and deter unwanted or risky behaviors within the facility. The multiple functions that a K-9 can perform are especially helpful in facilities where staffing is critically low. Dual-purpose K-9s are trained to perform both odor detection and protection duties, which can enhance the safety and security of a facility while minimizing the cost.
In addition to searching vehicles of guests and staff members to reduce or eliminate contraband, dual-purpose K-9s can also protect their handlers from harm, control crowds, recover evidence and even track people.
K-9 Programs Help Provide an Effective Deterrent to Contraband
K-9s can be vital tools for prisons and jails when it comes to tracking down and recovering illegal contraband, such as drugs and tobacco. They can even help to prevent prescription drugs, such as suboxone, from entering the facility. Suboxone is especially difficult for officers to locate because it is often transported in the form of a strip or a film that is nearly impossible to spot if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. However, a well-trained K-9 can easily locate the substance using nothing more than its nose.
In fact, a correctional canine team can do much more than find drugs inside a facility. They can be trained to locate cell phones, which represent a huge threat to the safety and security of the facility. Since a dog’s nose can be anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s nose, allowing them to sniff out items over greater distances and with more precision than a human officer can speed up the amount of time spent searching a cell or common area, which also frees up more manpower to attend to the normal running of a facility. Recent studies have shown that a dog’s sense of smell can be measured at parts per billion rather than parts per million, which makes for accurate and quick results when it comes to searching for anything.
These expertly trained four-legged officers can also be of service to the community that you live in. Another benefit to implementing K-9 programs in correctional facilities is the ability to take them to various locations within the community to assist local law enforcement in the reduction of drugs in schools, securing work locations for inmates working out in the community or even tracking down a missing child or elderly person in the community.
K-9s Can Protect Against Violence
If you work in jails or prisons, you know that sudden outbursts of violence can be frequent occurrences. As an alternative force option, K-9s can help reduce the need for use-of-force and reduce the likelihood of suspect resistance, which can decrease harm caused to both inmates and officers.
Research has shown that the presence of K-9s alone decreases violence within jails and prisons. This is because inmates are less likely to participate in unwanted behaviors when they know the consequence that will come from it. K-9s are especially effective when it comes to de-escalation between inmates and reduce the need for use-of-force between officers and inmates.
Typically, deploying a K-9 will be enough to deter violent behavior. However, there are some instances where this will not be sufficient. When this happens, the K-9 will secure the violent offender, allowing for officers to safely move in to restrain the inmate. This is due to the K-9s being trained to use a “bite and hold” technique that uses their entire mouth to grip and hold the violent subject until they can be restrained.
There are plenty of benefits to the bite and hold technique, including limiting the movement of the subject, distracting them from officers moving in and limiting their ability to cause more violence. This allows staff to gain control over the situation with ease and reduces the potential for injuries caused to both officers and inmates.
K-9’s Can Save Your Facility Money
Although expertly trained K-9s can cost $10,000 to $17,000 on average, they are well worth the investment. According to certified professionals who train and work with handler teams, one K-9 can be as effective as 10 officers when it comes to reducing the amount of contraband in the facility. Thus, reducing the chance of possible overdose from offenders. Another benefit when it comes to the cost of K-9 programs is that this can be covered by inmate commissary funds in many states because it increases the levels of safety and security for the facility. This means that the cost would not need to come out of the general fund and is therefore saving the county money and not further depleting the budget of your facility.
Regardless of whether you are looking to eliminate illegal contraband, track down someone who has escaped, reduce the need for use-of-force, protect your officers from harm or save your facility money, implementing a K-9 program can be beneficial. The presence of K-9 programs has proven to have many benefits when properly implemented in jails and prisons throughout the United States.
There are plenty of reasons why we should implement K-9 programs in our jails and prisons. For instance, K-9 programs are especially effective when it comes to using their highly sensitive noses to find things like narcotics, cell phones and other illegal contraband. They can also be helpful in reducing violence within your facility or restraining violent offenders so that officers can safely take control of the situation. Because K-9s can be up to 10 times more effective than human officers, they can help reduce costs for your facility without sacrificing the safety or security of jails or prisons. With the rise in violence and drug use over the past decade inside, why not take a step to drastically reduce the introduction of drugs and assaults inside your facility?