The Vanderbilt University Police Department formed a dedicated K-9 Unit in June 2007. These valued members of our department play a vital role in keeping our community safe by performing bomb sweeps, narcotic detection and community outreach.
Vanderbilt University Police Departments K-9 Unit consists of single purpose explosive detection canines, single purpose narcotic detection canines and community engagement canine teams. All detector dog teams are certified annually with the United States Police Canine Association. Initial detector canine training is under the supervision of a United States Police Canine certified trainer provided by the Metro Nashville Police K-9 section, with a minimum of forty days initial training. Canine detector teams must maintain 16 hours minimum monthly team maintenance training. Detector canine teams re-certify yearly with the United States Police Canine Association to demonstrate team proficiency as set forth by the USPCA. Explosive detection canine teams also must pass a yearly U.S. ATF National Odor Recognition Examination to maintain eligibility for USPCA certification.
All canine teams are members of the Special Operations Unit of Vanderbilt University Police Department and report to the Lieutenant of K-9 Operations Jason Bates.
Explosive Detection Canine Teams
Vanderbilt University Police Department explosive detection canine teams provide a multi-layered security approach to special events at Vanderbilt University as well as augment the patrol section of the central campus precinct. This section was established in 2007, consists of two United States Police Canine Association certified detector dog teams that provide K-9 service to around 130 pre-planned events each year. These teams also respond to numerous suspicious package/vehicles calls for service each year. These teams have received specialized training and continued education related to the mitigation and response to terroristic activity. All VUPD explosive detection canine teams train and communicate regularly with our agency partners to include , MNPD K-9 Section, MNPD Hazardous Devices Unit, Tennessee Highway Patrol K-9 Section, FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force- Nashville District, United States Federal Marshalls office, United States Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms and explosive bureau as well as the Nashville International Airport Police Department.
K-9 Officer Dyno (Serving Since September 2017) and his handler, Lieutenant Jason Bates
K-9 Officer Andy (serving since December 2023) and his handler, Sergeant Ray Stanard
To request a demonstration from one of our explosive detection canines or educational programming concerning the canine section please submit request
Narcotic Detection Canine Teams
Vanderbilt University Police Department drug detection canine teams provide operational support to Vanderbilt Medical Center, assisting with locating illicit drugs within the facilities.
The drug detection canine teams help with two ongoing initiatives at Vanderbilt University Medical Center: decreasing the misuse of opioids and decreasing violence in the workplace.
Vanderbilt University Police Department drug detection canine teams attend and complete a 40 day minimum United States Police Canine Association compliant training course. The drug detection canine teams must maintain 16 hours minimum monthly team maintenance training that is overseen by the Metro Nashville Police Department K-9 Section. The drug detection canine teams attend a United States Police Canine Association sanctioned regional certification at least yearly.
The drug detection canine teams are part of a multi-layered approach to operational security at Vanderbilt Medical Center. They are instrumental in the detection and seizure of illegal drugs as well as provide a general deterrent to illegal activity.
K-9 Officer Akali and handler, Sergeant Robert Stanley
K-9 Officer Durby and handler, Sergeant Donald McCormick
K-9 Officer Kato and handler, Sergeant Joseph Musick
K-9 Officer Trixie and handler, Sergeant Martin Hill
To request a demonstration from one of our narcotic detection canines or educational programming concerning the canine section, please complete this request form.
Community Canine Teams
In September of 2018 Vanderbilt University Police Department launched a new canine program to assist in outreach efforts and strengthen bonds with the Vanderbilt community. Community Canine teams will provide comfort and affection to Vanderbilt students, faculty, and staff, as well as the Vanderbilt community. The goal of the VUPD Community canine is to aid in reducing anxieties in a variety of situations such as: exams, stressful workdays, personal crisis, etc. The Community canine also aids in social interactions and positive encounters with law enforcement and the Vanderbilt community.
Community canine teams receive their initial training with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department “Paws and stripes academy”. The “Paws and Stripes” program finds shelter/rescue dogs and pairs the dog up with various county jail inmates. The inmates are tasked with training the dog on advanced obedience skills as well as to monitor, document the dog’s temperament and general demeanor under the supervision and direction of a professional canine trainer.
The “Paws and Stripes” program is a win/win initiative that frees up kennel space at private and public animal shelters, provides dogs with forever homes, provides a great resource to law enforcement agencies, provides college veterinarian students a strong practical application for their area of study and teaches inmates a skill that can be utilized to decrease recidivism.
If after approximately eight weeks the canine candidate meets the criteria, then the canine graduates and is paired up with an officer candidate to handle the canine.
The program has been in existence since 2006 and provides many canines to veterans/first responders with disabilities, families that have a child with disabilities, as well as multiple law enforcement agencies utilizing the dogs as child victim advocates and to assist officers with those in crisis.
Vanderbilt University Police Department community canine teams after graduating the training course with Brevard County Sheriff’s Department receive additional advanced obedience training. The teams then challenge the American Kennel Club for several different certifications related to the AKC “Canine Good Citizen” program. The community canine teams also test and receive certification through the nationally recognized Alliance of Therapy Dogs organization.
K-9 Officer Jack and his handler, Sergeant Shaneithia Lewis
to request an appointment to meet Officer Jack and Sergeant Lewis.
K-9 Officer Max and his handler, Sergeant Edwin Melgar
to request an appointment to meet Officer Jack and Sergeant Lewis.
K-9 Officer Gauge
End of Watch: 2020
Handler: Lt. Jason Bates
K-9 Officer Kojack
End of Watch: 2017
Handler: Cpt. Patrick Conwell
K-9 Officer Levi
End of Watch: 2022
Handler: Sgt. Cheryl Bradley
K-9 Officer Pepper
End of Watch: 2018
K-9 Officer Harvey
End of Watch: 2023
Handler: Sgt. Ray Standard