Leachville Police looking to add K9 unit to the department

Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Leachville Lt. Chuck Brown helps with an attack demonstration by K.P.K9's. Also pictured is Randi Criswell, owner/handler of Kelly's Premium K9's.

Members of the Leachville Police Department and Fire Department, along with Manila Chief of Police, deputies from the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department, Leachville Mayor Ralph Wells, and several area citizens were treated to a K-9 demonstration Thursday morning.

David Kelly and Randi Criswell, owners/handlers of Kelly's Premium K9's, along with Chris Honey, a client who is training with his dog, Jema, talked about the training of the animals. Dogs are trained in search, detection, protection and obedience.

Kelly, a 21 year veteran law enforcement officer and master trainer, informed those attending on the amount time it takes to train not only the dog but the handler. It takes four weeks, two weeks of day training and two weeks of evening training to compelte the initial training. Then there are continued training sessions to complete.

Kelly said the K9s need to be social but if the need be, they have to be able to bite when told to and stop on command.

Pictured are David Kelly and Randi Criswell, owner/handlers of K.P.K9's, talking to the Leachville Police and Fire Department, visiting officers, and guests about the training of a dog for tracking, detection and protection.

"They are animals," Kelly said. "Like humans, they have emotions and different personalities."

He went on to say the K9s can pay for themselves and more with seized drug money.

"They can also save the life of an officer," he said. "All communities have a lot of drugs and they are found by investigative searches and by K9s. Where there are drugs, violent crimes go up. Everyone is affected by drug use. Dopers travel back roads through small towns."

Kelly said all of the dogs he trains are obedient. He recommended a possible partnership between the town departments.

The cost of the training is $8,500. The cost of the dog varies depending on the breed and where it is purchased. Starting cost includes a kennel, crate, collars leashes, etc. Dogs can be trained in several languages.

Kelly said grants are sometimes available to help with the cost of the dog and some businesses will donate supplies.

The handlers had two Belgain Malinois, Leeah and Jema, demonstrating attacks, discovery of dope, and finding lost items in the fields.

Leachville had a dog nine or 10 years ago and Chief Steve Lancaster said he would like to have one again.

"We wish we had one yesterday," Lancaster said. "We will talk to the council on Monday and see if we can start acquiring funding over the next 30-60 days. We would appreciate anyone who would like to contribute. They can contact us at the police department. Having the K9 will be beneficial to the community and to the department."

Allan Lasater will be the handler for the Leachville K9.

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