Cocoa PD to host Space Coast Police K9 Competition


yra, the Cocoa Police Department’s first female K9, demonstrates a training attack on Cocoa Police Officer Chris Hattaway, left. Krya’s handler is Officer Brian Delos Santos, a 22-year veteran of the Cocoa PD.

VIERA VOICE Ernest Arico

Some of the top law enforcement and military dog handlers from around Central Florida and the state will compete Oct. 13 in the inaugural Space Coast Police K9 Competition at Tiger Stadium at Cocoa High School.

Hosted by the Cocoa Police Department, this free event will allow the public to see how K9 handlers and their dogs compete in running drills, obstacle courses and detection drills.

The event will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. About 35 teams are scheduled to compete. Some of the teams include handlers from Kennedy Space Center, Patrick Air Force Base, the Brevard Sheriff’s Office and numerous law enforcement agencies. The competition begins at 1:15 p.m. with the obstacle course, followed by the fast dog/hard dog competition. The awards ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Officer Chris Hattaway, a six-year veteran of the Cocoa PD, is coordinator of the event. He said the competition also is open to non-patrol dogs that are used for detection. No civilian companies or agencies can compete.

Hattaway said first-place winners in the timed obstacle course competition will win a Diamondback DB15 Elite Rifle. Other prizes include $500, $300 and $200 gift cards from Florida Bullet, a tactical gear company for law enforcement agencies.

Hattaway said he anticipates 2,000 to 4,000 people to attend. Besides the competition, there will be 45 vendor spots and 15 premium vendor spots available for attendees to view, and a SWAT team obstacle course for children.

Hattaway said he got the idea to hold a competition for K9 handlers in Brevard County after a Cocoa PD officer competed in a similar event in Boynton Beach.

“I saw how successful and popular it was, so I thought why not bring it to Central Florida,” Hattaway said.

One of the unique features of the competition is that the public will see the different uses of the canine.

“The public will see the value of what these dogs do for each municipality,” Hattaway said. “People think these dogs are super mean and aggressive. That’s not the case. People don’t realize how smart they are.”

Cocoa PD K9 officers will not compete. They will act as judges.

One of the judges is Officer Brian Delos Santos, a 22-year veteran of the Cocoa PD. He is training 2-year-old Kyra, the department’s first female K9. He said one of the most important qualities of a K9 dog is stability.

“The dog has to be calm, obedient and under control when they are on the leash,” he said.

Officer Robin Viera, a 10-year veteran of the force, said he has a special bond with his canine partner, 4-year-old Kable.

“We’ve been bonding for four years,” he said. “He’s not just a pet, he’s my silent partner. He comes home with me and there’s that sense of comfort. He (Kable) is one of the most playful dogs I’ve ever had.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit Cocoa Community First.

For more information, go to spacecoastpolicek9