Paws on patrol with the Naperville K-9 units

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For nearly 45 years, the Naperville Police Department has leveraged the unique talents of highly trained police canines to enhance the department’s ability to find missing or wanted people, search for contraband, and apprehend dangerous suspects.

The Department’s K-9 Unit began in 1980 and has placed 15 dogs amongst the ranks of the Naperville Police Department. Here are their names and years of service: 

  • Baron – 1980-1984
  • Dino – 1985-1990
  • Perry – 1986-1994
  • Kaiser – 1991-1999
  • Taz – 1994-2001
  • Hamr – 1999-2004
  • Kairo – 2002-2012
  • Sabek – 2005-2014
  • Niko – 2012-2017
  • Astor – 2013-2022
  • Maximus – 2014-2022
  • Jill – 2016-Present
  • Rocco – 2017-Present
  • Dax – 2022-Present
  • Riggs – 2022-Present

The use of K-9 teams has proven to be an excellent tool for this department and law enforcement in general. The K-9s have a keen sense of smell that gives them the ability to locate persons and/or evidence. The dogs also offer the handler and other officers an element of safety through their natural instinct to protect.

The department’s current cadre of canines includes two dual-purpose patrol dogs, one bloodhound trained in trailing scents, and one drug detection dog assigned to the Investigations Division. Learn a little more about them here:

The Naperville Police Department currently has four K-9 teams

Officer Peter Konow and his partner Rocco (Dutch Shepherd) and Officer Alexis Hammer and her partner Dax (German Shepherd) are each assigned to patrol and work similar schedules to the patrol officers. These are uniformed positions, with each officer driving a specially marked K-9 vehicle. Along with general patrol duties, the patrol K-9 officers conduct building, evidence and suspect searches; track missing persons and suspects; and detect illegal narcotics. Rocco joined the Naperville Police Department in 2017, and Dax joined in 2022.

Jill the bloodhound searches for missing persons or those wanted by police

Officer Michael Buckley and his partner Jill (Bloodhound) are also assigned to the Patrol Division. Jill has been trained as a single-purpose dog to trail people who are missing or wanted by police. Bloodhounds are experts at detecting and discriminating scents, meaning that Jill can follow one individual’s scent pattern wherever it might lie – on the ground or in the air. Bloodhounds have successfully followed trails after hours or even days have passed and can locate tracks crossing water, pavement or grass. Jill joined the Naperville Police Department in 2017.

Riggs is a labrador retriever assigned to the drug unit

Officer Matt Susnis and his partner Riggs (Labrador Retriever) are assigned to the Investigations Division’s drug unit. Riggs is a single-purpose police K-9 trained to detect illegal narcotics. He assists with traffic stops and the department’s proactive enforcement of drug laws along with warrant sniffs at residences. Single-purpose narcotics dogs have outstanding focus and excel at their jobs since all their training is focused on one task. Riggs joined the Naperville Police Department in 2022.

The importance of training for K-9 units 

The K-9 teams spend a considerable amount of time training to maintain their proficiency. The initial training consists of a rigorous 10-week program that not only prepares them for the jobs listed above, but also in how to work together as a team. After the initial training, the teams engage in formal bi-monthly training, which helps keep their skills sharp. There are also countless hours of extra training time that these partners engage in to hone and master their craft. All the teams are ILETSB certified, which is an annual procedure.

In addition to their work responsibilities, the K-9 officers are also heavily involved in the community, as they often make public appearances and give presentations to a variety of community groups. The K-9s are valued members of the Naperville Police Department family and enhance the department’s ability to keep residents and the community safe!