Washington Police Sgt. Derrick Devine and his partner, K-9 Diesel, were recognized last week for professional excellence as a Level III Trailing Team.
The duo received the President’s Award at the American Police Canine Association 2012 National Conference, hosted by the Knox County Sheriff’s Association and Vincennes University, Sept. 24-27.
“The President’s Award is given to teams in our association that achieve Level III trailing,” said Master Trainer Mike Johnson, president of APCA, adding the achievement is quite an accomplishment.
“I think Derrick is a fine officer. I feel like he’s dedicated, and I’m proud of what he’s accomplished with his dog. He did a super job.”
He said the Level III Trailing Team certification is the toughest to get, and teams must recertify annually. To certify, the officer and his K-9 must trail an hour-old trail for a minimum distance of 1.5 miles over vegetative surfaces with at least two paved crossings, two 90-degree turns, a stream crossing, a wooded area or high vegetation, and at least one human track laid 15 minutes after the original trail to contaminate it. The trail is laid with the wind to the team’s back if applicable, and it must traverse through business areas with human and vehicular traffic. The K-9 team has to find the man at the end of the track.
“Level III trailing is the hardest certification,” Devine said. “It’s actually tracking people. There are only six dogs in the nation that hold that title.”
A team from Martinsville, which attended training school with Devine and Diesel, also is a Certified Level III Trailing Team. Three others are from South Carolina and one from North Carolina.
According to Johnson, there are approximately 700 APCA members worldwide, with about 500 of those in the Midwest. More than 150 members were at the Knox County training from throughout the United States and Canada.
Devine explained that last week’s conference included training at venues throughout Knox County. He said teams worked on narcotics, tracking, aggression control and searches of all types. There were classroom lectures and special speakers along with the street-based scenario training.
WPD Chief Mike Healy said the recognition given Devine and Diesel reflects highly on the department.
“It’s a big honor for us, really,” Healy said, adding all WPD K-9 teams are well trained and work hard at it. “All three dogs are being used a lot.”
He said the K-9 teams are often requested by and assist other area agencies.
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