Indiana opens first K-9 training academy

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CLAY COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – The Indiana Sheriffs’ Association opened its doors Thursday to the first in-state training facility for police dogs. The K-9 academy is right here in our community located at the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch.

On Thursday, there were officers from all over the Hoosier state for the grand opening. Two local Clay County K-9 handlers and their dogs demonstrated some of the training practices for News 10.

Homer Knopp and his four-legged partner, Bihr have been working side by side to keep Clay County safe for two years.

“Bihr and I have a unique relationship,” said Knopp. “It’s more than a friendship. He’s a family member.”

Knopp has been in law enforcement for six years but he’s wanted to be a K-9 handler even longer than that.

“When I got Bihr he was 14 months olds so he’s matured a lot since then,” said Knopp.

Now Knopp and Bihr are able to take their law enforcement training to the next level with the new in-state training academy.

“We’re trying to raise the bar. We’re trying to create a standardization that hasn’t been done before,” said Indiana Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Steve Luce. “Ultimately it’s about making our community safe.”

All 92 Indiana counties are encouraged to bring their K-9s here to promote their talents.

This will help create a set standard for the law enforcement dogs across the state.

“I’ve reached out to my counterpart in New York to talk to the Master Instructor for K-9 training in the state of New York,” said Luce. “We’ve been communicating and they’ve sent us documents because they’re mainly in the forefront of K-9 searches due to 9/11 and what is going on in that state.”

The academy also provides kennels to house police dogs when their handlers are on vacation.

This is a multi-purpose facility, able to do much more than K-9 training. The volunteers can create simulations for local communities including home invasions and search and rescues. It has classrooms for leadership seminars. The private lakes may also be used for training law enforcement dive teams.

Organizers say this is truly a place for all city and county law enforcement departments to bring their employees on site to train. This eliminates out of state travel for these departments, saving time and money.

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