CANINE UNIT

A historical summary of the Canine Unit.

WHAT IS THE CANINE UNIT


Canine Unit Canine Rachel At North Avenue Beach
Canine Rachel at North Avenue Beach.
The Canine Unit is a unit within the Chicago Police Department and is assigned to the Special Functions Division of the Bureau of Patrol. Designated Unit 058, members utilize radio call signs in the 4700 thru 4799 series and operate on Citywide 1. The Canine Unit provides specialized patrol in selected areas of the City where such patrol can be used effectively. A canine team consists of an on-duty Canine Handler and his assigned Department canine dog. The man/dog team is available for assignments 24-hours per day. Canine team duties include conducting building searches for hidden offenders, locating missing persons, tracking suspects who have fled the scene of a crime, performing article searches, detecting narcotics or explosives and conducting public service canine demonstrations. The unit is headquartered at the Homan Square Facility located at 3340 W Fillmore Street.

Most of the Chicago Police canines are German Shepards. However the Department has also used Belgian Malinois and Labrador Retrievers. These breeds of dogs are working breeds which have the proper drive and temperament to complete the tasks assigned. A fully trained canine can cost upwards of $5000. The handlers and their dogs train approximately 12-16 weeks at the Chicago Police Department Canine Training Center. The canine team then continuously trains their dogs to keep them sharp, both at the Center and out in the field while on duty. Once trained and depending on their physical health, most canines are able to work an average of 10 years. Some dogs remain very healthy and are able to work beyond that point. When a dog retires, in most cases, it is given to the handler to keep as part of the family.

Canine Unit - Squad Car at Training Facility
Canine Unit squad car parked in front of the units training facility.
Canine Unit - Training Facility located at 320 W Touhy Avenue, Desplaines, IL
Canine Unit Training Facility located at 320 W Touhy Avenue, Desplaines, IL.

HISTORY OF THE UNIT


The unit was organized as the “Special Function Canine” unit in March 1961. Headquartered at 1179 S State Street its compliment consisted of six man/dog teams. All dogs in the unit were German Shepherds and the six officers selected for the unit received an extensive 14-week training course. The course was given by the St. Louis Police Department’s Canine Unit; their personnel having taken a course in England. Once the training was complete the Canine Handlers returned to Chicago to the units new training facility located at 320 W Touhy Avenue, Desplaines, IL. Future canine classes were held there. The training facility is still located at the same facility, but will close in the near future and be moved elsewhere.

Once the man/dog teams graduated from their training, the teams were available on the street from 1800 hours to 0100 hours, and were available to all personnel who had need for their service.

The unit quickly expanded and November 15, 1962 a five man/dog team graduated the training academy. Again in December 14, 1962 another six man/dog teams graduated. This brought the units compliment to 46 man/dog teams by the end of 1962. In August 1969 the unit continued to maintain 46 man/dog teams and began a search for eight to ten more dogs. The unit was looking for people who would have liked to donate their dogs, specifically, male German Shepherds, 9 to 18 months old. Prospective dogs were examined by a canine handler and the Department veterinarian before being accepted. Donors were directed to call Lieutenant Robert Ladtkow.

In 1976 the unit was headquartered at 56 W Hubbard Street and its compliment consisted of 48 man/dog teams.

Canine Unit - Canine Handler Donna Young and Canine Buck (July 1979)
Canine Handler Donna Young became first woman handler in Canine Unit when she and her partner Buck graduated the training academy. (July 1979)
Canine Unit - Canine Handler William Wagner and Canine Smoke (December 1979)
Canine Handler William Wagner of the Canine Unit puts his his partner Smoke through his paces. (December 1979)

CHANGE OF UNIT NUMBER & NAME


Since its organization, the unit number has changed four times and the unit name has changed two times since its inception.

Unit 045: Canine Unit / Task Force Canine – March 28, 1961 thru December 30, 1973
Unit 058: Special Function Canine – December 31, 1973 thru December 30, 1981
Unit 058: Canine Unit – December 31, 1981 thru August 17, 2011
Unit 146: Canine Unit – August 18, 2011 thru December 18, 2012
Unit 341: Canine Unit – December 19, 2012 thru Present

Reference Sources

  • Chicago Police Newsletter (March 1961). “Dog Training Program.” Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Chicago Police Star Magazine (January 1972). “Policemen and Dogs Are Partners 24 Hours Day.” Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Chicago Police Star Magazine (May 1976). “After 1S years still going strong, The Canine Section.” Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Chicago Police Star Magazine (January 1978). “Personalities.” Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Chicago Police Star Magazine (July 1979). “Canine Unit pays tribute to heroes.” Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Department General Order No. 61.24 – Procedures to be Followed in Using Form CPD AM 25.611 – Vehicle Order (Issued December 31, 1973). Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Department Notice 73-135 – Unit Designations (Issued December 31, 1973). Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Department Notice 81-83 – Unit Designations (Issued December 31, 1981). Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Special Order 01-02 – Unit Designations (Effective August 18, 2011). Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.
  • Special Order 01-02 – Unit Designations (Effective February 27, 2013). Retrieved from ChicagoCop.com. Accessed July 17, 2017.