Educating the Public: K9 officers show off skills at WestWorld
By Doyoon Kim
The Arizona Law Enforcement K9 Association will continue its work educating the public with the Desert Dog Police K9 Trials and Public Safety Expo.
It is set for 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, October 22, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, October 23, at WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale.
Visitors will witness K9s and their handlers running through on-field obstacles that replicate real-world scenarios experienced in active police duty. The event will feature more than 70 law enforcement K9 teams from around the country competing.
The K9 teams will tackle tactical challenges and handler protection obstacles, including 7-foot barriers for jumping, call-offs and extractions. Trophies will be given to the first-, second- and third-place teams.
In addition, there will be more than 100 vendors at the safety expo featuring police, SWAT, detectives, fire vehicles, helicopters, search and rescue boats, rescue equipment, specialized police and guard equipment, and food and shopping options. The public can interact with the officers. Benefactors of the event include Circle K, Penske and various local pet businesses.
ALECA is a public safety nonprofit organization of law enforcement handlers and trainers who work to help police service dogs in preventing and detecting crime, to assist law enforcement agencies in implementing police service dogs in their practices, and to educate the public about the work police service dogs do in law enforcement.
“We rely on donations to keep our cause going,” says Tony Sanborn, a Scottsdale police officer and ALECA vice president.
“I think we have one of the most noble causes: to make law enforcement and police officers better. We help officers achieve their mission of keeping the public safe.”
This is the 19th year of the Desert Dog Trials and Public Safety Expo. During the first few years, the expo was hosted at a local high school, where it was very well received. The event continued to grow.
“We tried promoting it, and it continued growing every year. We moved to Scottsdale Stadium and hosted it on the baseball field,” Sanborn says.
“We wanted to share more about the work we do, and the public wanted to know more about the police and what equipment they use. We outgrew our space, and during the last two years we’ve hosted our event at WestWorld.”
Two years ago, ALECA could not hold the expo for the first time in 10 years due to the coronavirus pandemic. ALECA had to shift to an online platform to keep the organization running.
In April 2021, the organization was able to host the expo again in person with precautions being taken. This year, the event will be held in person and open to the public.
“The officers have stayed the same, and our community has stayed pretty tight knit,” Sanborn says. “We continue to share training ideas and training philosophies and keep track with all of our K9 units throughout the state.”
When asked about the future of ALECA, Sanborn responded, “We’re excited for ALECA. The executive board has current law enforcement and retired law enforcement officers, so we have a real personal connection. We hope to make our event bigger and better. … We want to make this the biggest public safety expo in the country.”
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