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Police dogs trained at United Tribes
26 July 2010

BISMARCK (UTN) - As it turns out, the campus of United Tribes Technical College, is a good place for training dogs. The tribal college that educates over 1,100 American Indian students yearly has buildings, vehicles and grassy terrain, making it a perfect place to train police dogs and their handlers.

      That seemed clear June 21-23 during the Police Service Dog “Advanced Canine Training and Certification” workshop. Indian Country police dog handlers gathered on the college’s 230 acre campus near Bismarck to sharpen the skills of their service dogs in narcotics detection. The training was sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

A BIA police service dog Cindy detects hidden drugs during training at United Tribes.

      Police service dogs are required to be certified and must continually train. Typically they assist in detecting bombs, locating cadavers and apprehending offenders. The BIA’s canine program focuses on drug interdiction and tracking. The dogs also find lost children.

      “In the past we’ve had to travel several states away to get the dogs certified,” said Jeff White, Police Lieutenant of the Spirit Lake Tribe, Fort Totten, ND.

      A veteran officer of more than a 22 years (10 years handling police dogs), White is the region’s canine coordinator. He knows the frustration of traveling great distances to train, including having to drive in a police unit with the dog due to the complications associated with flying with dogs.

      “United Tribes is a perfect place to train,” said White. “It has everything we need.”

      Opening the college to K-9 training is a response to the need for more law enforcement training throughout Indian Country. David M. Gipp, United Tribes Technical College president, is a firm believer that effective law enforcement leads to safer, more productive communities. The key, he says, lies in attracting qualified law enforcement candidates to the profession, and in providing them, and other Indian Country law enforcement professionals, with more and better training opportunities.

       “In 33 years of doing business, this is one of the best training facilities I’ve been to,” said Joe Clingan, Master Canine Trainer.

      A former police officer, Clingan now operates Fort Collins Protection Dogs and Training Inc. His Colorado company purchases and trains dogs for service in the military and law enforcement.

      Clingan and Mark Miller, a Deputy Sheriff from El Paso County, CO, conducted the training and certification through the United States Police Canine Association.

      The course at United Tribes offered different environments and levels of difficulty. A portion was held outdoors in grass and around vehicles. Other locations were indoors in school classrooms and simulated residential areas.

The Bureau’s district regional office has committed to providing drug dogs for use at United Tribes to enforce the college’s drug-free campus policy. Dogs as pets are prohibited on the campus but police dogs can assist campus security officers with any vehicle on campus and public areas inside and outside of buildings.

      While the training was demanding, the activities were a fun game for the service dogs, who were rewarded by playing with a tennis ball. However, the training It is not a game for the law officers, who use narcotics and synthetic drugs to better train the dogs in detecting illegal drugs.

      When it comes to which dog breeds are best for police work, trainers and handlers are very selective. In the BIA’s regional program there is a preference for German Sheppards, Dutch Sheppards and Belgian Malinois. German Sheppards are considered to be the smartest, while the Dutch and Belgian dogs are the most athletic, according to Clingan.

      Trainers are also careful in their choice of breeders to assure the correct temperament, desire and capability to perform as trained.

Lt. Jeff White, Spirit Lake Tribe, Fort Totten, ND
White (Three Affiliated) was one of the first officers in the BIA to use service dogs. He is now the canine coordinator for the largest BIA district encompassing 11 states. Cindy, a Dutch Sheppard, is his second dog. White is an expert in handling and training police dogs. The District 1 objective is to have at least two dogs at each law enforcement agency.
Lt. Delano Good Shield, Standing Rock Tribe, Fort Yates, ND
Good Shield (Oglala Sioux Tribe) comes from a long line of police officers and soldiers who dedicated their lives to protecting Indian communities. His Great-great Grandfather was “Carries a Good Shield,” one of the first Indian police in 1869 at Fort Robinson, WY. His grandfather, Stanislaus Good Shield, was also a law officer. The tradition of police service was interrupted by wars when many in his family served in the military. Delano was a military police officer in the Marines prior to beginning his police career. “I always wanted to be a dog handler, and I really enjoy it.” Tessa is a Dutch Sheppard.
Sgt. Chad Harmon, Standing Rock Tribe, Fort Yates, ND
Serving as a dog handler is “more work and responsibility” for which an officer “needs to be highly motivated, according to Police Sergeant Chad Harmon. His dog, Sue, is a German Sheppard. Harmon began his career at Three Affiliated Tribes then transferred to Standing Rock. If he transfers again, his dog goes with him under the police theory: One handler, One dog. This is due to the close bond formed. If an officer retires, the dog typically retires too.
Officer Melvin Whitebird, Winebago Tribe, Winnebago, NE
Whitebird (Rosebud Tribe) now works at Winnebago. He has 10 years experience as a law enforcement officer. He believes that drug dogs are a major deterrent to crime and a very good tool to have. His large dog is a Belgium Malinois named Bollie.
Officer Willie Langan, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Belcourt, ND
Langen is a first year dog handler and kept very busy with his duties. “It has changed my patrol experience a lot.” He arrests many drug offenders and assists the tribal casino, the Port of Entry at the Canadian border and has travelled several hundred miles to help Watford City, ND. Willie’s father retired as Chief of Police at Turtle Mountain Agency in the 1980s.
Officer Blaine Flynn, Winnebago Tribe, Winnebago, NE
Flynn (Three Affiliated) has used his German Sheppard, Don, as an effective tracker. He has assisted families in finding lost children. He has a strong bond with his dog and often assists with special tribal events such as powwows, where Don is very effective.
Officer Terry McCloud, Spirit Lake Tribe, Fort Totten, ND
McCloud (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) views dog handling as a tremendous responsibility. “It’s like having another kid.” He says his Belgian Malinois, Dax, is a partner who can always be counted on as backup. He and Dax assist other agencies as well.


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