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Welcome to the DPD Canine Squad webpage

A Brief History of the Dallas Police Department Canine Squad

The Dallas Police Department Canine Squad was formed in 1961. Sergeant Galen B. Richcreek and 2 Patrolman, S.E. Norman and C.F. Bentley, Jr. were selected from over 200 volunteers, to become the first Canine Handlers in the Dallas Police Department.

The Police Department purchased the dogs from a canine academy in Brighten, Missouri. The handlers were sent to Missouri for two weeks of training with their dogs. The dogs were trained in obedience, attack, and tracking. Upon their arrival back in Dallas, they were assigned to the Special Enforcement Detail. They worked primarily alone in high crime areas of the city. In 1969, the squad was expanded to 9 dog teams. Each handler and dog was assigned to a Tactical Squad and was supervised by the Squad Sergeant.

In 1971, the Canine Squad was formed as a separate squad with its own supervisor. The squad was still assigned to the Special Enforcement Detail, also known as “Holloway's Raiders.” The Canine Supervisor reported directly to the Captain of the Tactical Section, Special Enforcement Detail.

Sergeant Clyde F. Goodson was selected as the Canine Squad's first supervisor and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1986. Officer Shelton E. Norman, one of the three original dog handlers, was selected as the Canine Training Officer. Officer Norman had overseen the training of the dogs for several years before he became the official trainer in 1971.

The late sixties brought many changes to the Canine Squad. Officer Norman trained the Squad's first narcotics detector dog. Two additional narcotic dogs were later trained. Officer Norman also trained the first explosive detector dog in the Southwest. Officer Norman was highly motivated in his work with dogs, and was an innovator in his field. Most of his methods were his own, developed through trial and error. He continued his work and was acclaimed as one of the top canine trainers in the country. Officer Norman remained Canine Trainer until his retirement in 1979.

Upon the retirement of Officer Norman, Sergeant Goodson appointed Officer Samuel R. Archer as the Squad's new Training Officer.

Officer Archer carried on the tradition of excellence passed on to him by Officer Norman. Officer Archer attended canine training schools to enhance his knowledge. His patience and experience fine-tuned the canine training program into what it is today.

Sergeant Goodson retired in 1986, and Sergeant John Zihlman became the new Canine Supervisor. Although his tenure was brief, it was through his efforts that an additional handler position was added replacing one of two positions that had been deleted over the years. Sergeant Zihlman began a second narcotic detector dog program. Dogs in this program were utilized strictly for narcotics detection. The program began with one narcotic detector dog, canine Josh, handled by Officer L. T. Smith. This program eventually expanded to include five narcotic detector dogs. These positions were in addition to the eight patrol dog teams already assigned to the Squad.

On May 1, 1988, Officer Archer and all handlers assigned to the unit were promoted to Senior Corporal.

In 1989, Sergeant William B. Buchanan replaced Sergeant Zihlman as the Canine Squad Supervisor. Sergeant Buchanan remained in that position until 1999.

In 1991, due to a change in responsibilities and workload, Sergeant Buchanan requested that three of the five narcotic dog handler positions be transferred to the Narcotics Division permanently. The other two narcotic dog handlers remained in the Canine Squad and were given patrol dogs that were cross-trained in narcotics detection. This increased the Squad's size to ten dog handlers, plus the Training Officer, who was also assigned a dog.

Upon the retirement of Officer Archer in August 1994, Sergeant Buchanan promoted Senior Corporal Brain A. Varker to the Training Officer position. Senior Corporal Varker continued to work his dog, thus the unit canine strength was increased to eleven.

In 1999, Senior Corporal Eric P. Jez was promoted to Training Officer. This addition allowed for the enhancement of the Canine Squad's training program.

Since becoming the Squad's trainers, Senior Corporal's Varker and Jez have created a rigid training schedule for each handler in the Squad. They produced new training forms to better document canine training hours. They have also implemented a canine proficiency test, which each team must pass annually.

Sergeant Tony Takats replaced Sergeant Buchanan and became the fourth Canine Squad Supervisor.

Sergeant Gary Hendley replaced Sergeant Takats in 2010.

Sergeant Tracy Smith replaced Sergeant Hendley in 2012, and he is the current Canine Squad Supervisor.

Senior Corporal Curtis Steger is the current Canine Squad trainer.

The Canine Squad has a proud history, and is looking toward the future with high expectations. It stands on a firm foundation that has been built over the years. The reputation and stature of this Squad would not have been possible were it not for the efforts and dedication of all its personnel, past and present.