The K-9 officers, along with their dogs, work with the officers on patrol. The dogs are trained to protect the handler and other nearby officers, when needed. Through skillful training, they will assist an officer even without being called. The dogs are extremely useful when searching buildings, fields, parks, etc. for fleeing or hiding suspects who are often armed. They can also be used to track the direction of travel of a fleeing suspect.
Upon locating the subject, the K-9 will bark to advise the handler of the find. The dogs offer significant advantages by being more efficient, quicker, and finding subjects without seeing or hearing them. One of the most important purposes of a police dog is to function as a deterrent. During mass demonstrations the police dog functions as a tremendously effective crowd control deterrent. If strategically deployed, 1 trained K-9 team is comparable to approximately 10 police officers.
In addition to patrol K-9's the K-9 Unit also has dogs trained in specialties such as drug detection, explosive detection, and search and rescue.