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Unique Training Ground Puts Teams Through Paces
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Officer Robert Leiva, working with partner Drax, are one of the K9 teams for the Livermore Police Department, participating in Thursday training at the former Big Boy market site on Jackson Avenue in Escalon. Marg Jackson/The Times

Returning to the Jackson Avenue location of the former Big Boy Market in Escalon, trainer Grant Flory worked with K9 law enforcement teams from several agencies this past week.

“We had Tuolumne County, Calaveras County and Angels Camp here on Wednesday,” Flory, of Top Dog Police K9 Training and Consulting explained on Thursday afternoon, Jan. 23.

Teams from both the Livermore and Alameda police departments came in for training that day.

The K9 officers and their handlers went through a gamut of drills, from searching for a suspect in the bite drills to finding hidden narcotics and some explosive device detection drills.

Sgt. Darin Tsujimoto of the City of Alameda is supervisor of the K9 unit there and said they currently have two K9 officer teams, though they are hoping to add two more. He said twice a month they have training sessions and utilizing locations like the former supermarket in Escalon gives the dogs unknown territory in which to practice their craft.

Sgt. Mike Mayberry of the Livermore Police Department said they have three K9 officers there and he also said there’s value in working the dogs at multiple locations. He also noted that they are a good tool to use to “gain cooperation” from a suspect or just for general crowd control.

“All these dogs will bark on command,” he said, adding that can be a deterrent for many would-be lawbreakers. If the bark is sounding, the bite could be close behind. “That perceived threat is effective.”

Both K9 unit supervisors are glad to have the dogs as part of the department and Flory said the dogs were definitely put to the test on Thursday, working a number of scenarios throughout the day.

“They’re also great community outreach tools,” Mayberry added. “When we go to community events, the dogs are always present and they are very social.”

Flory, who works with several departments around the state, said giving the dogs new territory helps to keep them, and their handlers, sharp and ready for when they are needed on a case.

K9 officer Blu, with handler Brandon Hansen, work one of the rooms upstairs at the former Big Boy market location, searching for hidden contraband as part of training on Thursday, Jan. 23. Marg Jackson/The Times