The Massachusetts State Police K-9 Unit originated as a result of the State Police response to the Walpole Prison riots of the early 1970’s.  At that time, the Massachusetts State Police did not have a K-9 Unit and needed to reach out to other agencies for K-9 support to restore peace inside the prison. The State Police then began to form a K-9 Unit which officially began in 1973 with four K-9 Teams and has grown to the approximately forty teams we have today. 

K-9 Frankie

The State Police K-9 Unit is assigned to the Special Operations Troop within the Division of Field Services. The Unit is commanded by Lt. Todd Cambra and currently has four Sergeants and thirty-three troopers for a total of thirty-eight K-9 Teams. These teams do not work out of a barracks but are divided for patrol purposes into Eastern and Western Field Troops. K-9 East covers Troops A, H, D, F  and the Eastern sections of Troop E. K-9 West covers Troops B and C and the western sections of Troop E. There are currently twenty  K-9 Teams in K-9 East and seventeen K-9 teams in K-9 West.

                                             Team picture K-9 Unit

The Massachusetts State Police K-9 Unit is one of the largest K-9 Units in the United States. Each K-9 on patrol is a “dual purpose” K-9. This means that they are certified in two specialties. The first specialty that they are trained in is patrol which encompasses obedience, tactical obedience, agility, evidence recovery, building searches, tracking and trailing, aggression and protection. To become certified in patrol each team must attend a Patrol School which consists of a minimum of fourteen weeks of training with both the handler and the K-9.


k-9 teams that recently graduated from patrol school

The second specialty they are trained in is scent work. Each team is trained in only one scent discipline either weapons, narcotics or cadaver. The scent school is an additional eight weeks of training which occurs after patrol school.  Before a K-9 Team is on the road they have undergone at least twenty-two weeks of intense training. This training time is longer than the actual State Police Academy to become a trooper.  Each K-9 team is also required to attend a weekly training session to maintain and improve their skills. The K-9 Unit Training Staff is responsible for the training of all thirty-eight teams of the K-9 Unit as well as the Troop F Narcotic Team and several local police and Sheriff K-9 Teams. The breeds currently used by the K-9 Unit include German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois.

                                       Group picture of K-9 teams with Air Wing


In addition to the thirty-eight K-9 Teams within the K-9 Unit, the Massachusetts State Police also has K-9 Teams which are separate from this unit and assigned to Troopers in Troop F and the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal has fourteen single purpose Labrador Retrievers, six of which are trained to detect accelerants at fire scenes and eight of which are trained to detect explosives. Troop F at Logan International Airport in Boston has one single purpose narcotic K-9 and twelve single purpose explosive K-9 Teams. As an Agency, the State Police has sixty-five working K-9 Teams providing safety and security throughout the Commonwealth.

                                           State Police helicopter and K-9 trooper with dog

The State Police K-9 Unit’s mission is to provide statewide K-9 support for all police and public safety operations on a twenty-four hour basis. The K-9’s are deployed as a locating tool to sniff out fleeing suspects, lost and missing persons, articles of evidence, narcotics, cadavers and ballistics. The K-9 Unit also works closely with other Special Operations Units such as the STOP Team, SERT Team and Airwing. The K-9 Unit has become the most requested, and perhaps the highest profile and most publicly recognized Special Operations Unit of the Massachusetts State Police.  In addition to the patrol responsibilities, the K-9 Unit is the most requested Unit of this Department for public demonstrations. The K-9 Unit can be seen at large demonstrations such as the Big E and Topsfield Fairs to smaller demonstrations for Cub Scout Packs and local schools.


                                               K-9 Neko performs a demonstration at the Topsfield Fair.


 K-9 Unit continues to respond to day-to-day calls for K-9 services across the Commonwealth, and has also become an integral part of the MSP’s security plans for large scale, internationally high-profile events such as the Boston Marathon, the 4th of July celebration on the Esplanade, and the many recent world championship events by Boston’s professional sports teams. State Police K-9 Teams are also assigned to protection details of  State, National and International Dignitaries when the need arises.

K9 Rex

The State Police K-9 Unit annually responds to approximately 5,000 calls for service statewide, assisting both Massachusetts State Police personnel as well as our local and Federal law enforcement partners.  K-9 deployments yearly result in an average of over 300 criminal suspects, lost and missing persons located.  Narcotics-detection K-9’s assist in the average annual location and seizure of approximately 40 kilos of cocaine, 11 kilos of heroin, and 3,000 pounds of marijuana.  The K-9’s have also annually averaged assisting in the seizure of approximately $5 million dollars of illegal narcotics proceeds within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

                                             K-9 Scully with drug seizure


      The Massachusetts State Police K-9 Unit has established a reputation as the finest K-9 Units in the Country and its K-9 Teams continue to reaffirm that reputation every day.       

          The State Police K-9 Unit can be reached 24 hours a day through State Police COMSEC at 508-820-2121.  


          Click here for the K-9 Memorial Page   K-9 Memorial Link