Canine Unit

The Canine Unit is assigned to the Bureau of Special Operations and provides canine support services to all Bureaus of the police department. The Canine Unit Training Facility is located at 687 Byrd Thurman Drive.

Canine Unit: (859) 425-2360


The Canine Unit currently handles the following types of canines:

  • Explosive Detection
  • Narcotics Canines
  • Patrol Canines

The Narcotic Detection Canines are trained to locate marijuana, powdered cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamines, ecstasy, and heroin. The Patrol Canines are utilized to track, search buildings, search for articles and apprehend criminals by biting when the situation is serious enough and no other means of apprehending the suspect are available. 

The Canine Unit currently has canines that detect narcotics and explosives and are also utilized for patrol.  A few exceptional canines are certified for dual purposes.




Tracking uses the dog's keen sense of smell to detect and follow human scent. The unit has deployed canines to track not only criminals who have fled the scene, but also missing elderly individuals as well as lost children. 

Building Searches 

Searches of commercial businesses are conducted by one canine team. The team consisting of one handler, his or her canine, and usually one back up officer (always a member of the canine unit). Using the dog's sense of smell and speed is a more tactically sound method of locating a suspect of suspects who are hiding inside a building. This practice minimizes the risk to officers and affords a suspect more incentive to surrender and the sound of a bark is often all it takes. 

Article Searches 

Article searches are conducted when a person has either lost or thrown an item while committing a crime. Using the dog's olfactory abilities, the canine is given an area to search and within a matter of moments the canine can locate the item even in a large area. Often it is more effective to deploy a canine in an area where there is poor lighting, heavy brush, or an area is too large to be searched visually.

Criminal Apprehension 

Criminal apprehension is used when an individual that is involved in committing a serious criminal act and is in process of actively resisting arrest; poses a threat to police officers or other persons if not immediately stopped, and cannot be stopped by any other lesser means. When a police canine is deployed for criminal apprehension, the dog is sent to bite and hold the individual until such time as they can be taken into custody.



The Lexington Police Canine Unit was established in 1962. It is the oldest in the state of Kentucky. Though established in 1962, a centralized kennel was not built until 1964. This kennel was located to the rear of the Bluegrass Stockyards where it remained until 1968. A new facility was built at 1313 Old Frankfort Pike which is our current site. 

The kennel facility contains office space as well as space especially designed to house canines. The canine runs are heated and air-conditioned. Also located on the three-acre site are a training field and an agility field, which allows for on site training.


Training / Certification 

The Canine Unit’s Detection Canines train weekly to maintain a high level of proficiency. The training helps both the Handler and the Canine improve their search techniques and problem solving abilities as well as strengthens the bond between the Canine and Handler. 

All canine teams are maintained in all of the areas described before and are tested regularly by the unit commander. All handlers and canines attend certification trials once a year. 

The certifying body is the United States Police Canine Association. This national organization is involved in the certification process all across the nation. The Canine Unit belongs to Region 5 which includes Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. Dog teams from those three state come together to be certified.



The Canine Unit is active in the community not only by attempting to make the community a safer place, but also in the area of public demonstrations. The canine unit provides demonstrations year round, to school groups, public and private, as well as civic organizations throughout the Bluegrass area.

During these demonstrations, narcotics searches are conducted, as well as basic obedience exercises, article searches, agility tests, and simulated criminal apprehension, where our bad guy, wearing protective gear, is stopped by the canine.

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