TMC’s Security K9’s become “the jaws with paws” thanks to constant training

TMC's Crime Prevention - K9 Unit

TMC’s Crime Prevention – K9 Unit

It is an impressive sight.  A nearly 100-pound dog that is so highly trained, it operates like a machine.  But working in a hospital, these “machines” can also offer a friendly nuzzle to a patient or visitor who needs a little love. 

TMC’s Crime Prevention K9 Unit consists of two teams providing protection and affection as needed.  Supervisor Jim Myers is the handler for Ax, a six-year-old Czech Shepherd.  Officer Cisco Montoya has Orbe, a five-year-old Czech Shepherd.  Both dogs received some training at their breeder before being assigned to their handlers.  After some initial bonding, the teams started chipping away at the 160 hours of police training that’s required for patrol certification.  Police training covers obedience, suspect apprehension, building searches, area searches, vehicle extractions, and most importantly, handler protection.   Commands are taught in a foreign language. 

Jim Myers, TMC Security Supervisor - Crime Prevention, K9 Unit, and his dog Ax

Jim Myers, TMC Security Supervisor – Crime Prevention, K9 Unit, and his dog Ax

Working in a hospital takes an extraordinary police dog that possesses equally extraordinary  social skills.  For three months following their patrol certification, they trained in hospital preparation – 75 hours total.  “Their ability to deal with the public in a non-working situation is extremely important,” said Myers.  “We can take these dogs on to a unit and let them socialize with people, and with a simple command, have them do police work.”

“Having a K9 is a huge responsibility.  It is another tool that we use to do our job, and like anything else, you have to keep up the training on it and know when to use it,” explained Montoya.  On a monthly basis, 16 hours of maintenance training must also be done with the dogs.  It includes obedience, socialization, and a scenario like an apprehension, building search or area search.  “When it comes to training, we plan for the worst, and train accordingly,” said Montoya.  

Everything must be documented in the K9’s training log.

The security teams may even incorporate small crowds into their training.  “We work with our dogs so that they remain comfortable in that type of setting while staying alert for anything or anyone suspicious,” explained Myers.

 “We’ll walk them through a crowd to help them get familiar with what that feels like, and to assure them that for the most part, people are ok. But then we throw in a twist.  We’ll have a bad guy hide out in the crowd and attack the K9.  This is telling the dog that although a crowd is typically ok, they need to be alert at all times.”


  1. […] training is done five to six times a month as part of the dogs’ maintenance training.  “It’s always a different scenario, and is done in different locations or buildings.  We try […]

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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