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Crimewatch: Police dogs train for helicopter duty

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New training for some Austin Police canine officers includes getting in and out of helicopters, preparing the four legged officers how to jump out of the air unit's new aircraft.

All Wiley wants to do is get his toy Kong. But he has to wait until officer Jimmie Davenport says he can. This obedience training is all about control.

"You just cannot wear him out. He goes 100 miles an hour non stop. He goes 0 to 100, nothing in between," said Davenport.

Davenport has been with the Austin Police canine unit for 18 years. Wiley is his third dog. Training the Belgian Malinois is constant.

Wiley's main duty is searching for bad guys on the run. Since there were not any handy, FOX 7's photographer Josh Lippold volunteered.

Wiley sniffs and searches and when he sees the suspect, he lunges and bites the bite sleeve.

Because Wiley needs all the training he can get, we run through another scenario. This time, Wiley doesn't let go of the bite sleeve and continues biting it for a while.

Davenport says training for each dog is different. Some pick up skills quicker than others. Wiley has been a fast learner. He not bothered by loud sounds or winds either, which Davenport discovered before this demonstration where the two had to get off air one at a safety demonstration. Davenport and Wiley will eventually repel from a helicopter. Davenport says such a skill is helpful during suspect searches outside when it's hot because canines easily overheat.

"We can grab a second dog somewhere with the air crew, pick him up, land him where we can cut the guy off or leap frog ahead, put multiple dog teams in dense areas like the area around the dam, that's just really hard terrain to move in," said Davenport.

He says it will also help if they get caught in a rattlesnake situation when assisting nearby counties such as Bastrop or Caldwell counties.

"I've run into a dozen rattlesnakes in my career. And if one of them bites the dog and we're way away from the car, a mile away from the car, by the time we walk that mile, get to the car, and then drive back to town, that's minutes you're losing on a dog's life."

More training is anticipated when the air unit gets its new helicopter, helping the mission of the canine officer, locating and apprehending suspects on the run.

Officer Davenport is headed for more training in Seattle soon. The greater Austin Crime Commission is paying for it.

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