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Decisions on whether to deploy dogs could change by year’s end for IMPD K-9 unit

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana and the nation are talking about law enforcement and how changes can be made to make the system better.

IMPD said it’s listening, and plans are in the works to change its standard operating procedures for police dogs, its K-9 unit. The department has spent months working on it.

IMPD Deputy Chief Josh Barker told News 8, “Looking an internally reviewing our current practices, and trying to identify ways that we can do it better, or as well as more safe for our officers and for the citizens.”

IMPD has decided to change the K-9 unit’s response strategy so it’s more similar to special weapons and tactics callouts. Under the new procedures, three specific criteria have to be met in order to send out police dogs:

  • The suspect has to be wanted for a felony or misdemeanor, and believed to be armed with a deadly weapon.
  • A perimeter must be established around the area.
  • An incident command has to be established by a supervisor.

IMPD Lt. Robert Stradling said, “That supervisor’s job is to coordinate all that, make sure that everybody’s on the same page. Make sure that we are, that the search is worth the risk and the effort.”

The procedures also call for K-9 unit officers to not be part of pursuits.

IMPD has around 20-25 handlers and about 50 dogs, but not all of those canines are assigned to be patrol dogs. Some work in other areas. Barker, the deputy chief, said IMPD wants to make sure it’s meeting the community’s expectations. “These measures are being taken because we recognize that even though the use of a K-9 is a less-lethal tool, we think that there’s a better way that we can equip our officers with training and additional tools to help negotiate a peaceful surrender when someone has fled law enforcement.”

External experts are reviewing the proposed changes. They could be implemented by year’s end, possibly before Thanksgiving.


“Amidst national and local conversations around policing, IMPD is listening to calls from our community and looking inward – making changes that are responsive to our neighbors’ requests and improve public safety. Our goal with these updates to is to change the way our officers think about K9 deployment and ultimately make search environments safer for both community members and officers.”

Randal Taylor, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department chief

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