Scottsdale PD is Solving Problems in School the Best Way We Know How: With Dogs

Photo Credit: Scottsdale PD

Law enforcement has a difficult job, and one that is even more difficult when it’s within the walls of a school. They have to walk a fine line between maintaining a degree of order and decency while also letting kids be kids and not prompting a response that could be quite damaging for the psyches of other children.

Well the Scottsdale Police Department is walking that fine line in perhaps the best way possible; meet Captain, a nine month old Goldendoodle. Captain will soon be roaming the halls of Coronado High School, helping to assist people experiencing anxiety, depression, or a manic state with a rise in cortisol levels, as per the police department.

While K9 units are nothing new, they are often used in the context of their smelling ability. Certainly you’ve seen drug sniffing dogs or bomb sniffing dogs at the airport. A mental health dog is a new twist, but a very reasonable one.

After all, nearly all of us who have dogs can attest to how they typically will reduce your blood pressure and make you generally more at ease (unless they have a mean streak or they use your carpet as a toilet). A recent study from Yale took a look at interactions between children and animals, and found that they increased happiness and decreased anxiety.

Especially since the George Floyd murder, law enforcement has largely been under a microscope. The Phoenix PD has long been under that microscope for various reasons ranging from excessive force to misconduct to how they treat people with disabilities. While the Scottsdale PD has largely avoided these structural issues, having good rapport with teenagers may lead to better rapport with the department as adults.

Not only do we love dogs, but we love this approach to law enforcement. De-escalation techniques and alternative ways of solving problems other than arrest and force are critical to building better bonds with the communities that they serve. It’s hard to be angry or anxious when a cute, well-trained dog is right in front of you. We hope that other cities in the Valley take this idea from the Scottsdale PD and implement it in their schools.