Laura Seitz, Deseret News
WEST VALLEY CITY — Shoppers at Valley Fair Mall Saturday watched dogs attack men in puffy suits and kids got to handle a device that SWAT officers use to break through doors.
It was all part of West Valley City's fourth annual safety fair, part of the National Night Out program to help communities unite with the law enforcement community and help prevent crime.
"Every community is encouraged to do block parties so the point is to get out, get to know your neighbors with the philosophy being that if you know who your neighbors are and who belongs in your neighborhood, you'll know who doesn't belong there," West Valley City spokesman Aaron Crim said.
National Night Out is held on the first Tuesday in August nationwide and West Valley City holds events that have crime or public safety value all through the month as part of the program.
"This is something that we've done every year for the last three or four years just so people can get to know who works at City Hall behind the scenes," Crim said. "It's really just an opportunity for people to come out and learn, we're not really pushing anything or promoting anything we're just kind of introducing ourselves."
The event was held at Valley Fair Mall to be in a high-traffic place to reach the most people.
People were able to, in a way, window-shop the different capabilities of the police with the West Valley City SWAT team showing tools used to break into houses, a list of the city's 10 most wanted criminals and how police solve crimes with forensics. What drew the biggest crowd, however, was a demonstration by the Police K-9 unit.
Sam, a 6-year-old black German Shepherd, along with two other police dogs were set on Officer Steve Beardshall with the K-9 unit dressed in a specialized suit for police dog training.
"In the West Valley City Police Department we have seven canines, two of them belong to community services," WVCPD Officer Salam Taylor said. "The three dogs that you are going to see today, they are called dual-service dogs ... they search for drugs, they also track people and they apprehend."
Sam's handler, WVCPD Officer Kelly Dellinger demonstrated Sam's ability to not only latch onto someone who is trying to run away but also obey commands by letting go and approaching the person but not attacking.
"The dogs aren't particularly looking for any body part, any that's available to them they'll take," Taylor said.
If somebody tries to disguise the smell of drugs the dogs could pick out the drugs. When we smell a cookie we smell a cookie, the dogs smell the flower, the sugar and every other ingredient Taylor said.
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