With the introduction of K-9 unit in 1983, The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) has started deploying groups of K-9 police dogs in various fields to track culprits, detect explosives, spot drugs and search and rescue. With 4 of them being the first police dog officers, there are now a total of 33 of them in the country.
K-9 unit is a law enforcement body, deployed in various crime scenes to detect drugs, explosives, track criminals and search and rescue. These police dogs belong to breeds of Labrador and German shepherd who are brought from Germany and India where they have already been trained. There are other groups who are brought up in the country and are trained by professional trainers which take minimum of 3 months.
The dogs trained for narcotic detecting are deployed at the check points at Rinchending ICP/MDP, during party nights and at the scenes where there are first hand information on drug dealers and users. “They are very affective as they can easily spot drugs using their sense of smell. So far there is a record of 40 drug users and dealers caught by these police dogs”, said Tenzin Namgyel, Officer in-charge of the K-9 unit.
The explosive detectors are mostly used during anti sabotage check during national events. So far, the canine unit was deployed at national events with a total number of 380. Likewise, for culprit trackers they use their sense of smell through small pieces of evidence left by the culprits in areas of theft, burglary and murder. They have been helpful to police personnels as they take very less time to solve the cases.
The only shortfall with police canine deployment is that they can be easily distracted by other dogs. Also, if the evidence at the crime scene has been tempered by others, they fail to detect as this mixes up their sense of smell.
With a life expectancy of 12 years, the K-9 officers retire at the age of 10.
Currently, the K9-Unit is based only in Thimphu and a few in border areas but the RBP plans to deploy more of them in the Southern belts as most of the drugs and tobacco products are brought into the country through these porous borders illegally. Moreover, they also plan to set up units in other parts like Samtse, Samdrup Jongkhar, Gelephu and Phuntsholing.