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PAWS Patrol

Meet Alpharetta's Own K9 Officers

Ask anybody in Alpharetta who their favorite police officer is and they will all agree. These two officers are exemplary public servants: laser-focused on their job and friendly. Both have sizeable social media followings with comments coming in from fans all over the state. 

Officers Mattis and Raider are part of Alpharetta’s outstanding K9 unit and we sat down with Sgt. Mark Tappan (Mattis’s human partner) to find out what makes this department so amazing and why other police departments are coming to Alpharetta to study this solid K9 program. 

AL: How many canine officers are on staff, and what does a typical day on the job look like for them?

MT: We currently have five dogs on staff. Four are Narcotic Detection and Patrol Certified (apprehension, protection, tracking and article search) dogs and one is a Narcotic detection/ school community relation dog. They spend their time during a workday training, responding to K9 specific calls or high priority calls where a dog may be useful (felonies in progress) and community relations events. We put a high importance on the bridge that our dogs create between police and the public, so we love taking advantage of this with demonstrations, public events and social media presence on Instagram. Follow them:






AL: These dogs are beautiful, but also smart. What kind of training do they do before joining the force?

MT: We go through a rigorous selection process of selecting dogs. The things that are important to us is first they are happy, social and confident dogs and then we look at the dogs drive to work with a myriad of tests and response to environmental factors (grated floors, slick floors, crowds and loud noises).

AL: Can you give an example of a recent arrest or investigation they have worked on?

MT: Our single-purpose narcotics dog, Raider, alerted on two vehicles, one that was broken down and the other was a friend that came to help. Officers stopped to help but the drivers were evasive and the officer thought he was smelling the odor of narcotics but didn’t know if it was from the vehicles. Because of Raider’s alert on both vehicles the officers found one of the drivers had a warrant for their arrest, a large amount of crystal meth for distribution (and various other Narcotics), $10,000 in drug money and firearms.

AL: That’s impressive. What do they do for fun?

MT: For our dogs, work is fun! Everything is a game they thoroughly enjoy. 

AL: Who takes care of the dogs, and what kind of training does the human partner have?

MT: The handler also has extensive ongoing training. The handler and dog go through initial training together 6-10 weeks and then are expected to train daily with their dog as well as 16 hours a month of unit training.

AL: When we see K9 officers around town, can we say hello?

MT Always ask to interact with working or service dogs and follow the instructions of the handler. All of our dogs are very social.