Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? LAPD K-9 squad visits class


An LAPD officer conducts a demonstration with her canine companion. Credit: Laurie Levenson

Casey Kim

Two members of the Los Angeles Police Department K-9 unit discussed training and working with police dogs with Criminal Law & Advocacy students May 1.

The officers brought K-9 dogs, also known as a drug dogs, along with them and explained how the dogs are trained to detect drugs such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

Afterwards, the speakers hid a pack of black tar heroin in the classroom and conducted a K-9 search. The dogs examined the corners of the room and froze once they picked up a scent, Criminal Law and Advocacy student Carly Burdorf ’19 said.

“When the dogs freeze, it alerts the handler the location of the drugs,” Burdorf said. “The most interesting part was getting to ask the police officers questions about the process and the bond that they have with their dogs. It was cool to learn about how the dog is motivated to find the drugs so they can get their special toys and praise, which is only given if they are successful.”

Students and teachers said they enjoyed the live demonstration.

“I think it is great for students to see the criminal justice system in action,” Criminal Law and Advocacy teacher Laurie Levenson (Dani ’17, Havi ’08, Solly ’06) said. “Learning from real life is even more fun than learning from books.”