San Francisco Police K-9 Unit teaches student about law enforcement as a career.

Pablo Caballero
February 25, 2013

The San Francisco Police Tactical K-9 unit demonstrated at DVC’s planetarium Thursday, Feb. 21 hosted by the administration of justice program.

The SFPD K-9 unit was invited by Matthew Morrissey, a DVC administration of justice instructor; the unit came on campus to demonstrate to students the duties of K-9 units in San Francisco and talk about careers in law enforcement.

The unit has been active since 1962 and was introduced to the police by the United States Military, where former soldiers trained law enforcement to use dogs for police work.

People have been using dogs since Roman times to let loose and attack people, dogs are sent to get hurt instead of people and it saves lives, said Sgt. Ron Banta of the SF Police tactical K-9 unit told the Inquirer.

Banta has been with the SFPD for 27 years, he has been a Sergeant for 17 years, seven of which have been with the K-9 unit. Banta also teaches at the San Francisco Police Academy.

Sgt. Banta explained to the group that the San Francisco Police K-9 unit has four different areas of specialization: tactical/SWAT, airport, transportation and narcotics.

Tactical K-9 dogs are used by SWAT and other tactical units to find bombs and perpetrators during felony searches, where the use of flash bangs are being replaced by police dogs in raids.

Sgt. Banta went on to explain that the dogs are used in other police fields to search for concealed weapons and illegal narcotics, in prisons or jails police dogs are used to find cell phones in inmate possession to prevent communication with accomplices who might commit more crimes.

San Francisco Patrol officer Andrew Rofman trained his nine-year-old dog, Maggie. He trained her since she was three and takes her home while off duty. Maggie will retire in three months and has served with the SFPD for five years.

The dog originated from Holland, where the department paid $10,000 for her use and $25,000 more for additional training, said Rofman.

The use of dogs to help police fight crime, saves police officers and the “relationship between cop and dog is miraculous,” said Eddie Conley, 18, administration of justice, DVC student.

“It’s amazing how administration of justice gets you prepared for the field you’re into. It’s nice to watch the K-9 unit demonstration, but not nice for the test/bite dummy,” said Stephanie Harvin, 22, administration of justice DVC student.

DVC student and Sgt. Banta’s son, Tim, volunteered to be bitten while wearing the biting vest used for training police dogs, “I felt a little pressure when the dog attacked,” said Tim Banta.

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