In 1974, Sgt. Gordon Ogden of the Coos Bay Police Department traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia to train one of the first three police dogs for the State of Oregon. While Sgt. Ogden received the training from the RCMP, two other officers from Coos Bay went to Detroit, Michigan to receive their K-9 training. After months of intensive training, Sgt. Ogden and the two others returned to the City of Coos Bay with three German Shepherds trained in tracking and searching for articles.
Upon their return, one of the K-9’s was dismissed from the program within months due to lack of performance. During this time, both styles, American vs. Canadian, were closely examined. It was decided that the Canadian philosophy was more conducive to police work in Oregon so the Canadian training style was adopted.
In 1978, the Hillsboro Police Department needed to fill a lieutenant position. Sgt. Ogden applied and was quickly selected by Chief Herman Woll. Chief Woll had the foresight and vision to see the important need for K-9’s in police work. Lt. Ogden was brought on board along with his K-9 partner, “King.” Lt. Ogden immediately became the lead trainer of K-9 Unit and began training Hillsboro’s newest handlers, Officer Ashenbrenner and Officer Jasper. This same year, Officer John Bender and his K-9 “Dylan” were hired from Coos Bay due to the loss of his position through budgetary constraints. Officer Bender had previously been trained by Lt. Ogden. It didn’t take long for his skills to be put to use, on Officer Bender’s first day with the Hillsboro Police Department, he and “Dylan,” were deployed on a call.
Less than a year after Officer Ashenbrenner and Officer Jasper hit the road with their new police K-9’s, “Buck” and “Brutus”, Lt. Ogden retired his K-9, “King,”. Officer Bender & K-9, “Dylan,” returned to Coos Bay after the citizens of the town passed a new budget. Lt. Ogden stayed on with Hillsboro Police and continued to train several more K-9 teams until he handed down the lead trainer role to Sgt. Tim Jasper. Over the years, the lead trainer position has been held by Sgt. Michael Poe, Sgt. Mark Bonnett, Sgt. Jim Kelly, Sgt. Bruce Kelley, and Officer Vin Ambrose.
From the inception of our K-9 Unit in 1978, Hillsboro has conducted numerous K-9 classes, training nearly all of our own K-9 teams. Additionally, HPD has assisted to train many other K-9 teams for numerous different departments, including federal agencies, and agencies from other states. From 1978 to the present, the Hillsboro Police Department has deployed 44 patrol dogs trained in tracking and apprehension, and four narcotic detection dogs. Over that time period, we have employed 37 Dogmasters, some of which have had multiple dogs over their careers.
Hillsboro has a long, proud tradition of training and effectively utilizing police K-9’s. Even though Hillsboro wasn’t the first to train and deploy K-9’s, we were instrumental in spreading the value of using them to locate suspects, articles, and missing persons. We have helped numerous other agencies in starting and maintaining their K-9 programs, and simply by being a valued resource for problem solving. The depth of experience within our Department is shown through the ranks. In 2007, every rank within the Department, from the chief to the patrol officer, included either a current K-9 officer or a former K-9 officer.
Initial training of our K-9’s consists of a 400 hour (10 week) class followed up by a monthly maintenance training ranging from 20-40 hours each month for the career-life of the K-9. The Department owns the K-9 and pays for the care of the K-9, which includes housing, food, and medical expenses. The K-9’s live at home with their handlers and upon retirement, typically reside with their handlers as pets.