Dogs were first introduced to the Lincoln Police Department in 1961 when the country was having an increase in public unrest and riots. The city adopted the idea of using dogs to assist officers in their duties, like numerous other police departments throughout the country. Since the scientific name for a dog is Canine, it was quickly adopted as the K-9 Unit.
In 1961, the first K-9 unit was approved for Lincoln, but privately donated funds were needed for the purchase of the specially bred and trained dogs. Thanks to those donations, the department purchased their first two dogs and assigned them to the first two Lincoln Police Handlers. The dogs were Kep, handled by Officer Flansburg, and Tap handled by Officer Cooper.
They were trained in tracking, handler protection, building searches, and obedience. The program became very successful and after the department saw the success of the two dogs, the department added a third dog the next year. He was named Ken and was handled by Officer Bruder.
|Ofc. Flansberg and Kep||Ofc. Bruder and Ken||Ofc. Novak and Silver|
The successes continued over the next 13 years, with 12 handlers in that time period and with 19 dogs. At first these dogs rode in the front seat of a regular police cruiser with their handler. They even attempted to develop a special vehicle for the K-9 officers by adapting one of the department's old Harley Davidson 3 wheelers that were being phased out. Unfortunately this idea was short lived as the dog kept getting thrown from the bike on bumpy roads. In 1963 the department purchased a station wagon specifically for the K-9 unit. The new vehicle has a caged area in the back that provided a much safer mode of transportation for the dogs.
|Canine Three-Wheeler||Canine Station Wagon|
The Police Department was very happy with the K-9 program's many successes over those 13 years. Unfortunately, national attention had turned towards K-9 divisions in the Southern states of America. Photographs of dogs being used to intimidate people during non-violent marches were putting a bad light on K-9 units nation wide. Local opinion became divided and, despite public demonstrations to improve public opinion, the last K-9 was phased out in 1978.
In 1983, two of the first three K-9 officers were allowed to reconstruct the K-9 program. Lieutenant Bruder and Captain Flansburg selected the new K-9 handler, Officer Scott Alexander and the city purchased his dog, Shane. More dogs were wanted and two Lincoln families contributed money for the purchase of two more dogs. Those two dogs were named after the families who donated. Beersie and Doc were then added to the new K-9 unit.
|Members of the Canine Unit with Several Generous Donors|
The new canines' duties hadn't changed, but they were improved upon as more uses for the dogs were discovered. They became so successful that the department decided that all four teams in the city should have a K-9. They added Bullet for a total of four dogs.
|Canine Handlers in the 1980s||Tracking a Suspect|