K9WH recently spoke to award winning author and retired cop Mike Pannett, here’s what he had to say.
There’s an iconic picture I’ve got in my study at home, you’ve likely seen it. It’s a lone dog handler and his GSD holding a crowd of about 200 at bay at a football match. I’ve another taken during the 2011 riots in a similar situation. They’re remarkable photos when you consider the terrible fate of PC Keith Blakelock and to me this image not only sums up the courage of police officers but also how a police dog is the absolute embodiment of a force multiplier. I’ve personally breathed a sigh of relief many times when a dog has turned up and the dynamics of an anxious confrontation have turned completely around.
There are few things that prompt a silent cheer in cops, one of them is the sound of barking and the protestations a burglar or car thief and the other is the message that the dog has found them when we’ve all been searching for someone vulnerable.
I’ve been vociferous in my criticism of cuts to police dogs, I’ve said its short sighted and I stand by it. How can you measure the deterrent factor? It’s immeasurable as anyone with policing experience will tell you. I know about the practical realities of ‘efficient’ force collaborations and I worry that when it goes wrong it’ll be those on the ground who will be accountable.
Our police dogs are worth their weight in gold – fact. I know it, cops know it and so do the public. Just look at the response to the recent ‘Finns law’ petition! It’s also worth remembering somewhere today/tonight/tomorrow a police dog will be putting its life on the line to keep you safe. A change in the law is required; they should be afforded protection if assaulted on duty. Equally as important is the K9 memorial fund – I fully support and back a roll of honour memorial to remember and recognise the sacrifice made by our 4 legged friends.
Every day I hear of forces tentatively recruiting ‘more’ police officers, when in fact they’re just trying to re establish what they lost through the governments so called ‘police reform’.
I genuinely hope that the Dog Sections that suffered will someday recover too. I’ve a gut feeling that we’ll need them.