There’s a new member of the Tucson Police force, and he’s literally ready to take a bite out of crime.

Raven is the newest K9 to join the team. Her handler, Officer Samuel Rennick has been with Tucson Police for 5 years, but this is his first time working with a K9.

Raven is a German Shepherd, who just finished several months of training to get ready to start patrols as the police department’s 8th canine.

“We build a foundation from obedience, just basic, sit, lay heel,” explained Rennick. “And then we work into narcotics and apprehension, getting into the alerts on narcotics and then bite work in area searches and finding people on site, building searches as well.”

Raven’s first two years of life were in the Czech Republic, where he also trained to make sure he was up for the task. That’s also why all the commands Officer Rennick gives him, are in Czech.

Clearly, Raven loves the what he’s doing.

“He’s responded extremely well,” said Rennick. “I think he gets a lot of his enjoyment doing the work in everything we do. All the training is a game for them. So to do the training is how he’s gonna get his toy or his reward. And he likes it a lot.”

Part of the training once he arrived in the US, was to hone in on Officer Rennick, and to only listen to him. We tried giving Raven one of his commands, but he wouldn’t follow it, because it wasn’t his officer ordering him.

In just the few shorts weeks Raven has been on patrol, Rennick says he’s already proven he’s an incredibly powerful tool.

“We’ve had several apprehensions of suspects that are argumentative or not complying with police,” he explained. “And as soon as he comes out of the car and gets focused on them, and the suspect sees the dog, a lot of times, and in every case in our situation, they’ve given up, which is what we want. In the end, it doesn’t always have to be a use of force. Gaining the compliance from a suspect who otherwise would be combative or resistant to officers has been cool to see.”

That’s a key piece of why these K9s are so critical. Rennick says out of all the times a police dog gets out of their patrol car at a crime scene, only 3% of those run-is end with a bite. That means 97% of the time, these K9s actually act as a deescalation tactic. It’s a big step toward making our community a safer, better place.

“It’s just the beginning and it’s been a lot of fun so far,” said Rennick. “And I can’t wait to see where our career goes.”

For now, Raven is still in a probationary period, so police are still making sure he’s a great fit for the job. After a few months, if all goes as planned, he’ll become official and he’ll get his own bulletproof vest.