NIU Police’s K-9 unit sniffs out crime on-campus, community


An NIU Police officer stands with Kazan, one of the oldest members of the NIU Police K-9 Unit.

Amy Kreeger

The NIU Police Department houses five four-legged officers, and they intend to sniff out crime.

Five dogs currently comprise the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety’s K-9 unit.

The K-9 unit has been on campus since 2002, and covers the DeKalb community as well as other suburbs of Chicago.

“We cover such a large area; we want to make sure we’re doing a thorough job,” said NIU Police Cpl. Joe Hodder, a long standing member of the K-9 unit,

Before every event at Huskie Stadium and the Convocation Center, the dogs sniff for explosives, firearms and any other items deemed potentially hazardous.

“They don’t just search for firearms, they search for shell casings and bullets too,” said NIU Police Officer John Barnett, who has been a part of the K-9 unit for a year and a half.

The unit is strictly funded by the police department’s regular budget.

“It is worked into our regular budget, and it is just another way to help serve our community,” said NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith.

The department has training for the dogs in order to help them keep with the tasks that are a regular part of their job.

“There are two types of training these dogs go through,” Barnett said. “The beginning training is for one hour twice a day through the week and maintenance training is one hour once a day. Both of these are done during the week.”

Hodder said the average stamina needed from a dog is 250 breaths per minute, and a dog needs to last around four hours at a time. Having many dogs trained helps out in emergencies, or if a dog can’t come into work.

“It helps so they don’t get tired out,” Smith said. “Also, when they are sick or when they retire, we are better prepared to have another dog step in and take its place, especially if we get emergency calls in more than one county.”

Some students said they feel safer knowing that there is a K-9 unit on campus, and this added security brings peace of mind.

“I like that they help in situations like the Toni Keller case and drug busts,” said Sheena Shaw, senior FCNS child development major. “I think it brings a little more safety to the campus.”