Halifax Co., VA -- Police from all over Virginia are at the Virginia International Raceway for a week long training class. But they are not the only ones getting the lessons. Their K-9s are really doing most of the learning.
This year the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office sponsored it, so they brought it to the Southside. But no matter where it is, officers say they get a lot out of this training.
With just one command, police dogs can be a useful tool for officers.
"We want to make sure the dogs are properly trained in case that moment comes," said James Hewlett, Master Police Officer from Virginia Beach.
But just like anything else, it takes reinforcement. That's why police units from across Virginia traveled here to VIR to practice and improve with their K9s.
"To share training, procedures, practices with guys who are from smaller, less equipped departments that don't have the resources that some of us have," said Hewlett.
Hewlett says everyone can benefit from this annual training session, especially the smaller departments that can bring these lessons home.
"We're trying to get them all in a pretty consistent area," said Hewlett.
They have a lot of work to do with 56 dogs divided into 4 different kinds of training including narcotics, patrol, tracking, and explosives. And VIR happily hosts them for free.
"We're very fortunate that we can give back to the community in this way because we do have this great facility here and they have a need and we are able to meet with those needs," said Mike Rose, Director of Marketing for VIR.
When they're back at work, they don't often have to engage the dogs. But if they do, they want to be ready.
"Statistics have shown that just having the presence of them decreases the amount of force that has to be used. Just sheer intimidation," said Hewlett.
They will be here all week training. One thing they really like about K9s is that they say this is the only tool that they can deploy and bring back if needed.