SUU Criminal Justice Club: An Evening with Crime Fighting Dogs

The Criminal Justice Club at Southern Utah University held their weekly meeting in the General Classrooms building on Wednesday afternoon. Members were introduced to three deputies from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office and the Cedar City Police Department. The main star of the event however, were the two Belgian Malinois K9 unit dogs brought in by their handlers. 

Laney Smith, a professor in the Criminal Justice Department said, “Meetings and demonstrations like this elevate the exposure that the students get, to be able to ask the officers questions.” 

The club prioritizes meetings and events for the people within the department to get involved with.

Over the course of this meeting, the students in the criminal justice department were able to ask questions about the dogs to Corporal Shawn Peterson and his deputy Brandon Kennedy. As a six-year K9 officer, Peterson has handled three dogs and is currently working with a Belgian Malinois. 

“Our dogs are multipurpose,” Peterson said, “they can be doing a drug sniff one minute and a man hunt the next. We aren’t locked into that one discipline.”

During the meeting, students experienced two simulations. Kennedy hid a box covered with the scent of a narcotic under a desk in the classroom. When given the command, it was up to his dog Link to sniff it out. 

The second simulation resulted in Officer Tyrell Crofts’ dog Max attacking Peterson’s protected arm to show what it is like for a K9 to attack a suspect.

When dogs enter their older age and no longer can perform in the force, they are retired. Their handler then has the choice to buy them from their agency for a small fee or have them be placed in an organization called Friends of Iron County K9. Regardless of where the dogs end up, they hold a very special place in the hearts of their handlers. 

Criminal Justice club president Ana Soares said, “One thing I thought was interesting was when the officers said the relationship with their dog was that of a parent and how they have so much pride for their animals.”

For more information on the Criminal Justice Club follow @suucjclub on Instagram.


Story by: Lainie Hallows
Photos by: Lainie Hallows