In 1978 the Mt. Vernon Police Department K9 Division was established. The division started as two teams and at one time hadthree teams with a K9 team assigned to each shift.
MVPD handlers must have three years of police experience and undergo an oral interview process. The division trains two eight hour days a month and during on shift training sessions.
While the K9's are property of the police department it is the responsibility of the handler to maintain their K9, assigned K9 patrol unit, K9's certifications and K9's training and usage reports. The department maintains a computerized data base of all recent K9 training and usage reports.
Two K9 teams maintain dual certifications thru the Illinois State Police. Their Narcotics detection abilities are tested during interior and exterior searches. The testing substances are Marijuana, Cocaine and derivatives, Methamphetamine and derivatives, and Heroin and derivatives. The Patrol Certification tests the K9's obedience, article searches, suspect searches, agility, handler protection, criminal apprehension without gun fire, and criminal apprehension with gun fire.
The K9 teams perform normal patrol functions as well as respond to building searches crowd control fucntions, major violent crimes, and other calls of a priority nature. The K9 division averages two hundred and fifty K9 related usages a year.