Preparation is key

Officers -- human and K-9 -- get ready for Emergency Services Community Day

The children get it -- now it’s time to teach the parents.

Kevin Fuller, K-9 officer with the Maryville Police Department, said school children know just how good police dogs and their handlers are finding drugs and apprehending fugitives because the K-9 officers regularly put on demonstrations at the schools.

It’s the children’s parents who need to come see for themselves just how good these dogs are, said Fuller. Emergency Services Community Day is designed to do just that.

During Emergency Services Community Day from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, at Everett Recreation Field, Fuller and his colleagues from all county and city law enforcement will bring the K-9 units to demonstrate for the public the agility, intelligence and, in some cases, even humor that the police dogs have.

“A lot of the public never get to see this,” said Fuller. “The kids know the dogs and what they can do from the demonstrations we do at schools, but a lot of adults just see the dogs in our cars. Parents never get to see us work with the dogs, so this is good for everybody.”

The officers were practicing with their dogs Thursday evening at Everett. “We try to get together at least two weeks prior (to Community Day) and do a couple rehearsals for what we’re going to do. We have a couple of really cool things we’re going to do differently,” he said.

Fuller said the handlers and their dogs will do narcotics drills with the dogs as well as a vehicle extraction where a fugitive won’t get out of a car. “We’ll extract him from the car with a canine, and then we’ll do a vehicle bail-out with a canine. If the fugitive jumped out, the dog will apprehend him in 60 or 70 feet from the car. We’ll also do a couple things that are funny for the public to see.”

Fuller said Community Day has been going on for about 10 years with the exception of two years when there was a budget crunch.

The event is free. “We sell our K-9 shirts a couple of weeks before the event and at the event. The purpose of that is to do everything we can so we don’t have to charge the public,” Fuller said.

Fuller said some of the proceeds pay for supplies for the dogs. The rest pay for items the event organizers rent or buy for the event, with the goal of not having to charge an admission.

“The main purpose is to let the public see what is out there for them as far as emergency services,” he said. “We’ll have all police departments and fire departments here showcasing their special units, equipment and assets and doing demonstrations.”

Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Maryville Police Department and Alcoa Police Department will participate along with Alcoa Fire Department, Maryville Fire Department and Blount County Fire Department. Rural/Metro Ambulance Service will be there along with a medical helicopter that will be flown in to the site. Tennessee Highway Patrol and Tennessee Wildlife Resources will be on hand too, Fuller said.

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