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The History of The SSFPD K-9 Unit
In 1967, Chief of Police John Fabbri recognized the benefit of K-9's in law enforcement. In response to the growing industrial area in South San Francisco he began to explore the feasibility of a K-9 program in the Department. He assigned Capt. Dave Casey to research various K-9 programs and make a recommendation. Later that year, based on the recommendation of Capt. Casey, Officer Stanley "Nick" Bennett and his K-9 partner "Gildo" began patrolling the streets of the city.

Gildo, a two-year-old German Shepherd, was imported for the police department from Germany. Gildo came to the police department already trained in the aspects of police K-9 activities. Following a brief training period he and Officer Bennett began working together on patrol. Their primary responsibilities were patrolling the industrial area, responding to potentially hazardous calls and searching buildings and open areas for suspects.

Expanding the Unit
Based on the accomplishments of "Gildo" and his successor "Roy", Chief of Police James Datzman decided to expand the K-9 Unit to include another dog and handler. Officer Don Culbertson and "Dyjac" began patrolling the streets in 1976. In 1979 the program was further expanded to five K-9 teams, thus providing essentially 24 hour availability of K-9 services to the patrol force.

Over the years, the dogs of the South San Francisco Police Department K-9 Unit have progressed to the point that they are relied on to perform many different duties. Their duties have expanded from when they were used specifically to search for suspects to being proficient in many different areas. Dogs of the K-9 Unit today have the capabilities to search for discarded items (evidence), search for narcotics and track both suspects and lost children. They are expected to be aggressive when necessary, yet gentle around the general public. No one is sure why the dogs perform so willingly to all the tasks asked of them. However, anyone who has been a handler is confident that it is because of the love and respect that the dog has for his or her handler.

The K-9-Handler Relationship
The dedication of K-9 handlers is unsurpassed by any other unit in the Police Department. Handlers, who are selected based on their interest in the program and their demonstrated ability to be resourceful and tenacious when dealing with crime, are expected to put forward the extra effort needed. Handlers are expected to attend training twice a week (6 to 8 hours). They generally are in attendance on their days off, after or before their shifts and, in many cases, have attended training when they were on vacation. From the handlers perspective the rewards are worth the extra effort. Nothing makes a K-9 handler prouder than to take a suspect into custody knowing that without the assistance of the dog the suspect most likely would have escaped. For this, handlers work in the rain with their car windows down and with a wet dog shaking water on them harder than it is raining outside. Handlers climb mountains following the energetic dog who uses his four feet to their two. They search dirty and cluttered warehouses and under buildings where other officers refuse to go. They do all of this and more in the hopes of having their K-9 partner capture an alluding criminal.

Here to Stay
Since its inception, the K-9 Unit has made a significant impact on the community. K-9 Officers and their dogs have made hundreds of public demonstrations to educate the public in the benefits of the K-9 program. Scores of criminals have been captured, where without the assistance of the dogs they would have most likely eluded the searching police officers. Twenty-eight different officers have been assigned to the K-9 Unit, utilizing 25 different dogs since 1967. Thousands of miles have been patrolled through both industrial and residential areas. The secure feeling of seeing the "police dog" patrolling their city has touched many citizens.