The Rantoul Police Department maintains a dog team that consist of a handler and a Dutch Malinois. The officers assigned as K-9 handlers work a similar schedule as other patrol officers covering the afternoon and overnight watches. This is a uniformed position that includes a specially marked police vehicle for the team. In addition to working together, the K-9 officer takes the dog home at the end of their shift. Along with general patrol duties, the K9 officer provides:
Community education and outreach programs
Evidence and suspect searches
The officer and dog spend a considerable amount of time training in order to maintain the proficiency of the team. The team undergoes a period of basic training at the start of their partnership that lasts up to 10 weeks. The teams also attend periodic seminars to increase their expertise. The team is certified by the North American Police Work Dog Association in the patrol and narcotic detection specialties.
The use of dog teams has proven to be an excellent tool for law enforcement. The dogs have a keen sense of smell that gives them the ability to quickly locate people and evidence. The dogs offer the handler an element of safety through their natural instinct to protect. The use of the K-9 team has also bolstered community relations and the overall impression of the department.