City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
Canine Division
Dog Type of Dog Type of Work D.O.B.
Jimy German Shepherd Patrol/Explosive June 2004
Bazer German Shepherd Patrol/Gun July 2007
Bobbi Belgian Malinios Patrol/Gun July 2007
Rocco German Shepherd Patrol/Gun Sept 2005
Dirk German Shepherd Patrol/Explosive Jan 2005
Hanko Belgian Malinios Patrol/Explosive March 2005
Raikor German Shepherd Patrol/Explosive April 2004
Frodo German Shepherd Patrol/Explosive Sept 2005
Torro German Shepherd Patrol/Drug Nov 2006
Pluto Belgian Malinios Patrol/Drug Oct 2002
Tim German Shepherd Patrol/Drug Aug 2002
Kuly Belgian Malinios Patrol/Drug Jan 2009
Ben German Shepherd Patrol/Drug March 2002
Beau German Shepherd Patrol/Drug July 2005
Egor German Shepherd Patrol/Drug Dec 2002
Mali Belgian Malinios Patrol/Drug May 2009
Tonky Belgian Malinios Patrol/Drug March 2009
Mixo German Shepherd Patrol/Drug May 2009

Police Canines: Duke (Bloodhound), Allen, Benny & Emir have retired.

Q:WHAT KIND OF CANINE ARE USED AND WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
A:We use imported dogs from Europe due to their higher genetic drives for Police work and health guarantees. Our dogs are purchased with City funds, or are purchased by other government agencies involved with Law Enforcement. Current market prices for an untrained entry level dog for Police work is $6,000 to $8,500.
Q:WHAT ARE THE AGES OF THE DOGS? WHAT TYPES OF DOGS DO WE USE?
A:The dogs range in age from 14 months to 8 years old; most are German Shepherds. Duke our one and only Bloodhound just retired in January of 2009. We have 13 German Shepherds and the rest are Belgian Malinois.
Q:HOW LONG ARE THE CANINE KEPT IN SERVICE?
A:The average work life for one of our dogs is 5 to 7 years. Some K-9 careers are cut short due to illness or injury. Recently one of our dogs ("Rasty") developed Kidney failure, the dog was only on the streets for a year before he was retired. As the dogs age, their ability to do the physical tasks begin to diminish. The older dogs are monitored and when it becomes obvious that they no longer enjoy the work or can no longer do the job to our standards they are retried from service and remain with the handler at home.
Q:HOW MANY CANINE HAVE WE LOST?
A:We do not a have a good record on how many dogs were lost in the line of duty. Several of our Police Canines were shot in the early 1970's; it is unknown how many returned to service after healing from their injuries. Recently we lost a dog on May 6, 2008, "Ulf" was shot and killed in the line of duty. Another dog was lost in June of 1991, "Jupp" was hit by a car in Homewood. Most of our dogs retire from service due to declining performance and age.
Q:HOW MANY CANINE DO WE HAVE?
A:We have 19 dogs working for us right now. The number of dogs fluctuates due to injury, retirement and new arrivals. In the Police Operating Budget we have been approved to support 24 dogs. The City of Pittsburgh pays for the veterinary expenses and monthly reimbursement to the handlers for actual costs involved with caring for a working dog.
Q:HOW ARE THE CANINE ASSIGNED AND WHAT ARE THEIR EXPERTISE?
A:The dogs are assigned to each of the six patrol Zones. All other dogs are trained for Patrol functions and either drug, gun or explosive detection. Patrol functions include Obedience, Agility, Handler Protection, Suspect Apprehension, Building/Woods/Area Searches and Tracking.
Q:WHAT DOES THE BADGE ON A CANINE DOG MEAN?
A:The Police Canine badge is awarded to the handler and dog upon completion of the intensive training regime at the K-9 Training Academy. Dogs are not given a badge or considered a Police K-9 until they have successfully completed the 3 -4 month program and have proven their proficiency. Badges on worn on the dog's collar while working and are only taken off when they are kenneled. At one time our K-9 badges had numbers similar to a Police Officer's badge number. Several years ago the badges were changed to include the dog's name. The current badge identifies the dog by name and clearly indicates that he is working Police K-9 for the City of Pittsburgh. The name is across the five-pointed star in the middle and the department logo the top and Police K-9 on the bottom. Working Police Canine with a badge are exempt from dog licensing requirements.
Q:WHAT TYPE OF EQUIPMENT DOES THE CANINE WEAR?
A:For everyday tour of duty, most working Police Canines only utilize the Fur-Saver type collar. Other specialized equipment can be donned for certain deployments. The dogs can be out-fitted with a tracking harness when it becomes necessary to track a person. Durable boots can be put on the dog for mildly hazardous footing conditions and a ballistic vest can be worn to increase protection. Ballistic vests weigh approximately 15 pounds and can over heat a dog and limit their physical capability. The vests are put on the dog when there is a heightened awareness of a possible armed encounter.
Q:IF SOMEONE WANTED TO DONATE TO THE CANINE DIVISION OR WISH TO PURCHASE CANINE WHO SHOULD THEY CONTACT?
A:Currently we do not take donations or donated dogs. Rules and regulations forbid us from taking gratuities and gifts. We use imported dogs from Europe due to their higher genetic drives for Police work and health guarantees. Our dogs were purchased with City funds, or are purchased by other government agencies involved with Law Enforcement. Current market prices for an untrained entry level dog for Police work is $6,000 to $8,500. Persons, Community groups or Corporations wanting to purchase a dog and have it donated to the city for Police work should contact the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Canine School at (412) 665-3603.

Julius P. "Jules" Kmak was the first K-9 Instructor for the Pittsburgh Police Department. While with the U.S. Coast Guard he attended a one-year course at the Canine Training School of the U.S. Army and then another year with the Canine School of the Coast Guard.

This background training qualified him to teach other servicemen and dogs to work together as a team. Following his discharge from the service he became a Pittsburgh patrolman for six years.

Kmak stated, "during that time I spoke with my supervisors concerning a canine program November 1958 the city Fathers advised the Public Safety Department that they could begin training a canine division."

Two canine teams, Jules Kmak and Ben Palumbi were the original members. Kmak became the instructor with the rank of sergeant and Palumbi later advanced to lieutenant and Inspector Kmak remained with the K-9 while Palumbi returned to district supervision.

Until his retirement in April 1947 Kmak remained as supervisor and instructor of the city's K-9 program. Realizing the success of the operation more officers and animals were added. The Division received numerous commendations and awards from the City, and other law enforcement agencies including the F.B.I. Kmak also received many commendations and awards personally. During his span of command the outfit was increased to 48 canine teams. He also trained officers for other police agencies. Many of them received recognition for bravery and outstanding service.

Training began late in 1958 at the Schenley Park Oval Bowling Green, former No. 7 Police Station on 13 Street, Glenwood Street Car Barn before they received quarters at the Police Academy on Washington Blvd. A new building has been erected next to the academy with enough space to adequately provide all the needs of the K-9 for training, storage, parking, and office space. In other words finally a home of their own after a quarter of a century of existence.

It was Monday, November 17,1958 when Patrolman Jules Kmak and Ben Polumbi became the original members of what Safety Director Louis Rosenberg thought would become a valued arm of the department. Many times since they proved Rosenberg's judgment to be right on the money.

Dogs were used by Baltimore police and Rosenberg and a few councilmen went to see first hand if the use of the animals would be beneficial to our police department.

Kmak and Polumbi were selected to begin a 6-8 weeks training program. Since it was new, the program consisted of having the officer and the dog understand each other as partners. They would be constant companions while patrolling or whatever else they would eventually be called upon to do. The officer took the animal home with him and lived with the family. He became a pet of the household. Mr. and Mrs. Steven Lill, professional trainers, of East Pittsburgh supplied free the know how. The animals were donated and the officers were volunteers. A dog food company supplied free chow to help with the food bill. The officers received $1.00 a day to supplement the food bill and whatever else the dog needed. Another $1.00 was paid to ort the animal back and forth to the stand the assigned beat.

As the K-9 Division progressed, officers John King, Melvin Miller, Harry Burkey, John Daniels, Charles Sweinberg, Jack McAfee and Robert Ebbert joined the K-9.

Director Rosenberg stated that the animals proved their worth in tracking down suspects, sentry duty, sniffing out prowlers, defending their master, dispersing disorderly rowdy crowd. Eventually they were trained in the narcotics field and could sniff out a cache of hidden drugs. One of the dog's most important assets is his keen sense of smell, which is much more highly developed than that of a human being. He is also able to hear higher and fainter noises than humans are capable of hearing. A good police dog also possesses three other qualities: a lively intelligence, the mobility to pursue suspects in areas where a man on foot would have little success. They have a quality of persistence to concentrate on the task they are given.

Following Kmak's retirement Bob Ebbert, Ed Cunningham and Danny Konieczka, in that order, led the K-9 group. At one time there was a compliment of 52 men assigned to the outfit. However, there was a period of seven years when no police officers were hired and only two promotions made within the department. We now find that there are 28 assigned to the outfit and hopefully some time in the near future 12 will be added making a roster of 40 officers.

There are nine vehicles assigned to the six police zones. A foot patrol is also assigned to the various zones. Among the 28 dogs one is trained to seek out bombs and eight are trained for narcotics investigations. They serve a dual purpose of street duty also. Since illegal narcotics play such a vital part in modern activities hopefully more canine will be trained and added to the police department.

 

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