K9 Deployment Bag Donation Highlights Role of Police Dogs in Modern Law Enforcement

K9 Deployment Bag Donation Highlights Role of Police Dogs in Modern Law Enforcement

Equipment: K9 Deployment Bag: Black, "K-9 GEAR BAG" printed in red on top. 2011.45.1. Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.
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The National Law Enforcement Museum’s goal is to tell the story of American law enforcement. That story, dating back to the 17th century, would be incomplete without mentioning the animals that have helped officers achieve their duties and protect the public throughout history. In fact, police dogs have been an integral and important part of policing in America since the early 20th century; however, accounts of dogs serving and protecting people date back to Ancient Greece in the third century BC. Today, modern police dog units, commonly called “K9” units, have developed sophisticated training programs that encompass detection, patrol, and search and rescue functions.

Marcello Muzzatti, a member of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Board of Directors and a retired Washington, DC Metropolitan Police (MPD) Officer and K9 handler, recently donated his complete K9 deployment bag to the Museum. The deployment bag contains the tools and equipment commonly carried by K9 officers: collars, harnesses, leads (leashes), and animal first-aid items such as bandages and topical medicines.  

Officer Muzzatti and one of his police dogs (Cheko), courtesy of MPD’s website.
Muzzatti joined the MPD in 1981 and became a K9 handler in 1989, where he worked with narcotics and patrol dogs until his retirement in 2010. Muzzatti worked with six different canines on both patrol and narcotics detection duties. Fortunately, he never lost a canine partner to a duty-related death during his more than 20 years as a K9 officer.

Muzzatti’s experiences as a law enforcement K9 handler taught him one of the most important lessons that a K9 officer learns: trust your dog. That trust begins with the training that both the officer and canine undergo, whether it’s the basic obedience training all police dogs receive or the specialized training, such as "fetch" games, used to train narcotics and bomb-sniffing dogs.  Muzzatti recalled one incident in the 1990s that justified his trust in his narcotics dog's skills. He and other officers were in a private home conducting a drug search with his K9 partner, Rambo. During the search, Rambo jumped and reacted to a space heater that was turned on in the house. Muzzatti thought his dog was confused by the heat from the appliance and urged Rambo to continue searching the house. When the dog kept returning to the space heater, Muzzatti turned it off to see if Rambo would still react when it cooled. Muzzatti soon realized that Rambo's instincts were spot-on—there was a kilo of cocaine hidden in a vent beneath the space heater.

Muzzatti trained at the MPD’s 14-week K9 Unit Training Course with each of the six canines he handled throughout his career, which allowed him to establish a close bond of trust with each. This bond made it possible to train each canine to respond with complete obedience, which is vital to ensuring public safety.

The experiences that Muzzatti shared with the Museum when he donated the K9 deployment bag will enhance and expand the Museum’s ability to tell the story of modern law enforcement.
If you have historic or contemporary police dog or other law enforcement animal-related objects that you would consider donating to the Museum, please contact Vanya Scott, Registrar, at 202.737.7869 or VScott@nleomf.org.


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