K-9 Teams Practice Skills In Payson

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Police dogs were all over Payson Wednesday and Thursday nights, searching buildings and lots for hidden bad guys.

It was all part of the seventh annual Arizona Law Enforcement Canine Association (ALECA) K-9 Officers' Survival Seminar, hosted by the Payson Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department.

Sixty teams of dogs and their handlers from throughout Arizona participated in the seminar, which started Wednesday with a day of classroom instruction.

Wednesday and Thursday nights, the dogs and their handlers ran a variety of drills at eight area businesses and at local schools over the two nights.

From just before dark to the early morning hours, the teams practiced shootouts, chasing fleeing felons, searching buildings for suspects and drugs, handler protection, obedience work and multiple suspect encounters. Instructors critiqued their performance.

"This is about working dogs and working environments," said Sgt. Rod Mamero of the Payson Police Department, coordinator of the seminar. Mamero has been the K-9 officer for the Payson department for the last seven years.

The dogs and their handlers are all experienced and are members of ALECA, whose dues go toward covering the cost of such events, Mamero said. They also pay a $75 registration fee to attend the seminar.

Mamero said the seminar would not be possible without the support of local businesses, schools and government agencies.

"All handlers always want to stress how welcome they feel in town and how appreciative they feel of schools, government offices and businesses for their donations of space, merchandise and training locations," Mamero said.

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