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The City Journals

West Valley City Police Department is again top dog among public safety K9 units

Aug 10, 2020 01:22PM ● By Darrell Kirby

West Valley City police Sgt. Jacob Palmer, left, and his partner Ranger and K9 officer C.J. Moore and Tank are part of one of the nation’s top law enforcement K9 units. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

By Darrell Kirby | [email protected]

The West Valley City Police Department’s K9 team has again taken a bite out of the competition. 

Sgt. Jacob Palmer and Officer C.J. Moore and their respective canine partners, Ranger and Tank, took top honors at recent Utah Peace Officers Association K9 trials held over four days at Utah Valley University and Galena Park in Draper. 

“We dominated,” Palmer said proudly. “We took top agency. We won the overall, all-around categories in narcotics and patrol.” And that’s after going up again nearly three dozen dogs and their handlers from law enforcement, fire departments, search and rescue crews and even military units from around the state.  

To prove the state win by Palmer and Moore was no fluke, both officers and their dogs also finished with the highest cumulative score at the Las Vegas Metro K9 Trials last October, beating out competition from across the United States and even internationally.

Moore says teams are judged by retired and former K9 handlers on, among other things, searches for narcotics in vehicles and buildings and locating suspects in structures and other areas. Scores are based on the times and successful completion of the events. “Those are all reality-based scenarios. They try to simulate an actual event that occurs on the street,” Palmer added. 

Moore says handlers and their dogs are evaluated equally during the trials. “It’s not just about watching the dog run off and do his thing. It’s about how you and the dog work together. The human is being scored just as much as the dog,” said the 5 ½ -year law enforcement veteran, three of them with West Valley City PD. 

Moore’s dog, Tank, is a German shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix. “He’s only 3 years old, so he’s working through that puppy side, becoming an adult.” In human years, that puts Tank in his late teens. “Sometimes, he will treat me as if he was a teenage child, a little defiant, knows what’s expected of him, but sometimes he wants to do it his own way.” 

“They’re all big-time alphas,” Palmer said of police dogs’ take-charge personalities, including his 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, Ranger. “Every once in a while, they’ll test you and make sure that you can handle them.” 

Palmer has been with the police department for 13 years, with nine spent in the K9 unit. 

He says the bond between K9 officers and their dogs is a special one through all the dangers of police work. “You’re with them every single night, more than with your families. These dogs— they’ll literally die for you.”