Viera competition will test skills of police K9 teams

During the Space Coast Police K9 Competition, the K9s will compete in 12 obstacles and will be judged on such talents as apprehending suspects, scent detection, crawling and jumping through windows.

Who’s the top dog? Police K9 officers will find out Sunday, Oct. 17 in Viera.

About 20 police and military K9 teams from around Florida, the United States and the world currently are scheduled to test their skills in the third annual Space Coast Police K9 Competition at USSSA Space Coast Stadium at 5800 Stadium Parkway. And that number is expected to grow to around 30 teams by the day of the event, said Yvonne Martinez, the public information officer with the Cocoa Police Department.

“We’ve done the event for two years,” Martinez said. “We didn’t do it last year because of COVID. But for the 2019 competition we had about 20 teams and we’re looking to grow that a little bit.”

K9 officers will participate in a timed obstacle course meant to challenge police dogs and their handlers. The furry officers will face 12 obstacles and be judged on such talents as apprehending suspects, scent detection, crawling and jumping through windows.

Local K9 teams expected to compete are from the Florida Highway Patrol, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Patrick Space Force Base and the Rockledge Police Department. Event host Cocoa Police Department will not enter a team but will feature its police dogs in a halftime presentation, Martinez said.

Out-of-county challengers include teams from the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office and the Butts County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Office.

“We have a couple of competitors from Texas who are professional dog trainers not affiliated with a law enforcement agency but they train police dogs,” Martinez said. “And we have one competitor that was here with us in 2019 from the Royal Danish Air Force in Denmark.”

Gates open at 3:30 p.m. and competition starts at 4 p.m. A public safety expo outside the stadium will feature displays from Brevard law enforcement agencies.

Cocoa police will follow CDC guidelines the day of the event regarding masks at the outdoor stadium, Martinez said.

Cocoa police is asking for a $5 donation to attend the event benefiting the Space Coast Police K9 Foundation Inc. The new registered nonprofit assists police K9 programs for law enforcement agencies throughout Brevard County.

“Basically, training, resources, equipment — whatever we can do to help support law enforcement agencies and their K9 programs,” Martinez said.

For more information about the event, go to spacecoastpolicek9competition.com