Most existing literature on K9 units has focused on the relationship between police handler and canine, or questions about use of force. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between private donations to public police departments, an increasingly accepted institutional practice in the policing world, and K9 units. Specifically, the authors examine rationales for sponsoring and financially supporting K9 units in Canada and the USA.
The authors focus on four main themes that emerged in analysis of media articles, interview transcripts, and the results of freedom of information requests.
These four rationales or repertoires of discourse are: police dogs as heroes; dogs as crime fighters; cute K9s; and police dogs as uncontroversial donation recipients.
After drawing attention to the expanding role of police foundations in these funding endeavors, the authors reflect on what these findings mean for understanding private sponsorship of public police as well as K9 units in North America and elsewhere. The authors draw attention to the possibility of perceived and actual corruption when private, corporate monies become the main channel through which K9 and other police units are funded.
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