Robert Compton

last updated 10/7/2017

Robert L. Compton

State Coordinator at International Police Work Dog Association

Location:
P.O. Box 7455, Greenwood, Indiana, United States

General Information

Experience

Master K-9 Trainer - Allen County Sheriff's Department

K-9 Master Trainer - Allen County Public Library

Education

Master Trainer

Recent News  

Executive

Robert Compton
Narcotic

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Executive

Robert Compton
Narcotic

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http://www.jg.net/article/20131013/LOCAL07/310139947/1043/LOCAL07

Bob Compton, master trainer with the International Police Work Dog Association, is greeted by canine Ike and handler Mike Henderson during training on Thursday.
Compton is spending this Thursday out by the Allen County Fairgrounds, watching several officers and their dogs go through the second week of a class at a fenced-in patch of lawn littered with wooden obstacles. It’s a place he’s come for years to put both officer and dog through the rigors of his 16-week course, one in which he forms the pair into a cohesive team. Only, now he’s here as a volunteer. Compton, a man responsible for roughly 4,000 K-9 units that serve or have served police departments from here to Ohio and even places like Arkansas, retired from the Allen County Sheriff’s Department last month. He had served as the department’s master trainer since 1976. “It was time,” said Compton, 70, who announced his retirement abruptly. Compton once trained a young officer named Ken Fries, now the sheriff, to be a dog handler. Many dogs and handlers used in Dayton were trained by Compton, and he was behind the training when Cleveland police began using dogs in 1989. Twenty-seven of the 30 K-9 units used by Indiana State Police throughout Indiana are the handiwork of Compton. “The dog did exactly what he was supposed to do,” said Compton, who attended Kilo’s memorial service. Compton has also been around long enough to see how the use of dogs in police work has completely changed. He had grown up with dogs - his first pet as a boy was a rat terrier named Duke - and joined the department strictly because it was the only one in the area that had K-9s. Back then, police department’s were just coming off of using dogs as what Compton called “six-foot chainsaws.” In the 1960s, they were used primarily for attacking - and Compton said all you need to do is look at pictures of civil rights marches of the era to see why they were given the chainsaw nickname. But in more recent decades, the dogs needed to be extremely versatile - plus extremely sociable and calm. That’s because many of the K-9 units are now used to promote departments to various groups, including children. “I need a dog that can go to a kindergarten class in the morning, chase a bad guy in the afternoon and then go to a first-grade class later that day,” Compton says. Due to budget constraints many police departments face, dogs also had to become multiskilled. While back in the day one dog might be trained to sniff out bombs and another drugs, dogs now are trained to pick up the scent of a variety of items. Compton also keeps up with the changes in law, noting that a court decision can change in one day how officers are allowed to use force or perform searches. It can also alter what a dog is lawfully able to do, meaning he might need to alter how dogs are trained. And Compton has been at this so long, that all he needs to do is really look at a dog and within minutes he knows if the animal is potentially trainable or not. About 70 percent to 80 percent of dogs donated to K-9 departments by the general public wash out, he says. “You have to look at the dog as a tool,” Compton said. But he also recognizes the bond officers make with their dogs. Officers take care of their dogs while they have them, then have the option to keep them on as pets after the dogs’ services are finished. Compton said he has never seen an officer give up his dog after the animal’s retirement. Mick Dockery of the Indiana State Police who has helped train dogs with Compton. Compton is leaning against the green Ford van, surrounded by a few officers he’s trained in the past and who now help him train others. Then, Compton talks about the police radio in his home, and how when he hears the action his first instinct is to always turn and get ready to head out the door with a trusty companion. He said it takes him a minute to realize that he doesn’t have to go anywhere. And then he finds himself out here, in a patch of grass by the fairgrounds, watching a new crop of dogs, green now, but slowly and surely being molded into future police K-9s.

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