The City of Canton Illinois, population approximately 15,000, implemented a K-9 program in 1996 under the direction of then Chief J. Michael Elam with the support of the community and city government. Elam entered the Chief position in the early 1990’s with a goal to combat the ever-increasing drug problem. This was done in a three-part program, which continually updated the public on arrests and enforcement efforts. As police and public communication were heightened, public appreciation and interest in the police increased. Two local business owners applauded the efforts and approached Chief Elam about taking the program a step further with the addition of a K-9 unit. These business owners took the role of liaisons between the department and the community and started a K-9 fund. They coordinated benefits and presentations with local groups and generated over $40,000 in less than one month. While the money was being raised, Chief Elam had volunteer members of the department research the idea and report their findings. This included interviews with other police department managers and K-9 teams, obtaining information on trainers, selecting a handler, dog kennels, K-9 vehicle, equipment manufactures, off duty compensation pay for dog/kennel maintenance, and provide a projected cost and budget for start-up and yearly maintenance costs. With the completion of these steps, Canton’s first K-9 unit was formed and the war on drugs began in full force.
The City of Canton maintains its K-9 program and has assisted other agencies in their quest of bringing the benefits of a K-9 unit to their communities. The Canton Police Department has had four K-9 teams beginning with Officer Rick Nichols and K-9 Grando, Officer Mike Eveland and K-9 Roko, Officer Matt Freehill and K-9 Halo, and Officer Ryan Demott and K-9 Jack.
The newest member of the Canton Police Department K-9 Unit is K-9 Shiva. K-9 Shiva and her handler, Officer Jarrod Smith, went through 9 weeks of certification at the Illinois State Police K-9 training accademy. K-9 Shiva is now patroling the streets of Canton searching for those who choose to commit crimes. K-9 Shiva is a full service dog trained to do the following:
The K-9’s are trained to locate and alert on cannabis, cocaine, crack, heroin, and methamphetamine. Our dogs passivly alert to the odors. They are able to search vehicles, buildings, areas, schools, and items. The K-9’s are trained to track/trail human odor and crushed vegetation. They are able to track both rural and urban areas. This can be used to locate fleeing suspects, or lost individuals that left in a known direction.
The team is trained to apprehend suspects on command. They will also apprehend suspects at the end of tracks and during building searches as the situation dictates. The use of a K-9 in this capacity is based on current case law and department policy. Our K-9’s will use this skill at their own discretion when defending itself or the handler. The teams can be used to locate items that were either discarded or hidden in large areas such as field or road ditches. The dogs will locate the items and lay down with them between their front paws. The dogs are trained to locate the human odor on the articles, not the actual odor of the articles. The teams can be utilized to search buildings prior to sending in officers. Building searches are used when it is believed that there is likelihood that a suspect remains inside a building, is committing a felony and is a possible danger to officers.