A national police dog competition is coming to south Alabama in September, and officers and their K9s around the U.S. are preparing for the big event.

The United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) National Field Trials will be held in Foley from September 24-29.

There will be demonstrations showing what K9s can do, including searching for evidence and suspects and apprehending suspects.

FPD Chief Thurston Bullock said the city hosted the event in 2017 and is proud to be the home base for the 2023 trials. He said with a city built on tourism, the facilities and local attractions available will make the event a success.

"We are very proud to be hosting this event," Bullock said. "This gives us another great opportunity to engage and bond with the public. We try to attend the national trials every year as competitors, so to have the opportunity to host our friends and colleagues and show them a good time is a great benefit. We also want the competitors and other attendees to not only have a great time at the event but to have an opportunity to see what all our city and area has to offer."

The FPD has three K9s in service and plans to add another soon. Bullock said having dogs with officers on patrol is valuable in many ways. Other than finding drugs or suspects, he said it helps his department remain proactive instead of reactive.

"K9s are also a key component of community policing that opens doors for interaction with the public and especially with children," he added. "The attraction that humans have for canines is what makes them so valuable to community policing because it naturally pulls people into engaging with the officers. The rapport we create with the public is invaluable when it comes to helping us protect the community. We cannot effectively do it alone without the help of our citizens' involvement and the trust in our department."

The event will be open to the public and at the Foley Sports Tourism Complex (Championship Stadium). On Thursday, September 28, there will be a large presentation showcasing the K9 abilities as well as a lights and sirens police vehicle presentation. On Friday, there will be an awards luncheon hosted by the FPD.

For information on the event, hotels and the USPCA, click here. The deadline to register is September 15.

The USPCA trains and certifies police dogs in general patrol, tracking, protection, narcotics, explosives, arson, fish and game and search and rescue. It is the oldest police K9 organization in the nation. It trains German shepherds, Belgian Malinois, retrievers, Labradors, border collies, bloodhounds and more. The new National Champion K9 will be selected at the National Police Dog Field Trials in September.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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