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K-9 Teams Sink Teeth into Training

The Douglas County Sheriff's Department attracts K-9 police teams from as far as Texas and Brazil as they host the North American Police Work Dog Association Georgia State Workshop this week.

Whether it's tracking down illegal drugs or apprehending a fleeing criminal, police K-9 Units are gathering in Douglas County this week to sharpen their skills.

The Douglas County Sheriff Department's K-9 Unit is hosting the North American Police Work Dog Association Workshop, attracting more than 120 police units from around the country, and even one team from Brazil.

During Monday's City Council meeting, Douglasville Mayor Harvey Persons and the Council proclaimed this week North American Police Work Dog Association Georgia State Workshop week in Douglasville.

The workshop focuses on hands-on dog training techniques in the following areas: obedience, aggression, narcotics detection, explosives detection, tracking, area search, building search, cadaver detection and problem solving.

Event organizer Lt. Michael Barnhill, Douglas County Sheriff's Department, said there are 10 to 11 more teams than last year.

"Everything's going smoothly," he said. "Handlers are getting the certification training they need."

"I don't think I've ever seen a state workshop that ran this smoothly, this efficiently," Sgt. Jim Von Essen said, a Gainsville Police Department trainer and assistant state coordinator for NAPWDA. "There's no down time and that maximizes your time. That's great because you get your certification early and have time to work on other problems, like building confidence or better search patterns or more obedience."

"This is my third year and it's important training that quickly translates to the street," Officer Beth Frye said, City of Chamblee Police. "You get to work out any problems here so you don't have any on the street. You also get updated on new laws and techniques. 

"There's a tremendous difference in my dog's (Ghost) abilities between now and when we were first here," she said.

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