More than 50 police officers and their four-legged partners will be coming to Payson for the 11th Annual K-9 Officers Survival Seminar Wednesday and Thursday.
"We host the seminar in conjunction with the Arizona Law Enforcement Canine Association, the Gila County Sheriff's Office and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office," Payson Police Sgt. Rod Mamero said. "Over the past years, we've had about 500 dog teams come through. It's the only training like it in the Southwest."
Officers attend a seminar during the day at the Inn of Payson and when night falls, field training begins at various locations around town and lasts until 1:30 a.m.
"We train at eight or nine different locations all over town," Mamero said. "They spend two nights going from scenario to scenario all over town. It's a high-intensity schedule that requires the handlers and their dogs to face a multitude of problems in pretty rapid succession, including felony stops, armed gunman hiding, fleeing suspects, drug and explosives detection."
The training is dangerous, Mamero said, and, therefore, is not open to the public. For the first time, however, the public can purchase canine program souvenirs.
"We're going to have a booth set up to sell merchandise to support the canine program," Mamero said. "It will be at the Inn of Payson conference room and open from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m."
Shirts, hats, mugs and other items will be for sale, with the proceeds supporting the yearly seminar.
Residents can expect to see officers and their dogs from all over the state and even from other southwestern states around town for two days.