ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - This week, police K-9 units from around the region will head to LaSalle Parish for their annual certification.
Certification is important because getting it each year allows the dogs to continue to work and means that their work on the job meets national standards and will hold up in court.
It starts as a typical drill, but it's more of a game for the dogs. Officers hide cocaine and the dogs get a reward if they find it.
"They love to work, absolutely love it," said Cpl. Jeff Laborde, a K-9 handler with the Alexandria Police Department. "When they get out of the truck and their feet hit the ground, it is all about we're going to do something fun and exciting. I'm going to have a great big time."
But, it's all business for these K-9 handlers at the Alexandria Police Department. They have two big days ahead of them in LaSalle Parish where their dogs, Belgian Malinois, must be certified annually by the National Police Canine Association.
"It's a big draw whenever we have a certification," said Cpl. Laborde. "If you have learned anything from us interacting today, we interact like that once we all get together. We all have known each other for a long time."
In another exercise, Patrol Officer Austin Butler, who is aspiring to be a handler one day, puts on the decoy suit.
"You pretty much have to pay your dues," said Officer Butler.
In this exercise, the dogs practice a take down. Officer Butler says it is good for the public to know what goes in to training a K-9.
"They have no idea all the training that goes in and preparation to have a K-9 on the streets," he said.
If the dogs get the stamp of approval after Thursday and Friday's certification, they'll be good to go once again for the streets and their work will hold up in court.
"When we walk into court we can show the dog is performing up to standard and up to what the courts say needs to be happening for our dogs just like us," said Cpl. Laborde.