The unusual number of law enforcement officers and barking dogs in the Osage Beach and Lake Ozark areas last week caught the attention of area residents.

The unusual number of law enforcement officers and barking dogs in the Osage Beach and Lake Ozark areas last week caught the attention of area residents.

But not to worry because for the third time in five years, Osage Beach hosted the Missouri Police Canine Association's annual fall workshop.

The MPCA was formed in 1996 to help canine teams excel in the use of their canines by providing training and an avenue to certify their teams in a variety of disciplines.

As Osage Beach Police Officer Sam Ford reminds us, an officer's K9 is his or her partner, is part of the police team and in many cases can be the difference between an escalating situation and peaceful resolution.

In fact, Ford says that 28 times in his career as the K9 handler for the OBPD a perpetrator has backed down in the face of an angry, but well trained dog.

"We're blessed to be chosen," Ford, the local MPCA coordinator, said. "I'm very proud of the fact we've been voted by the membership three times in five years to host the workshop."

The Lake of the Ozarks offers realistic venues that give handlers and their K9s scenario-based training, whether it's heavily wooded terrain, open fields, enclosed structures, etc.

Law enforcement agencies from 33 departments descended on Osage Beach for training by several Master Trainers in tracking, article search, drug and explosive searches, building search, obedience, aggression and apprehension.

Trainers, who have to meet certain requirements and continuing education, were from Boone County Sheriff's Department, Columbia Police Department, Cape Gerardo, St. Louis and the state of Texas.

Community effort

"It's the community that makes this so successful, not me," Ford said. "I'm so appreciative of the community and how it steps forward. It never ceases to amaze me how the community welcomes these officers with open arms."

He said local support has come from Above and Beyond Roofing, Tri-County Lodging Association, Gary Prewitt, Hedges-Scott Funeral Home and Tan-Tar-A along with several others.

The economic impact of the fall MPCA workshop is immeasurable, Ford noted, since the officers and support staff (about 50 in all) are here a week and then often return with their families. Other times workshop attendees brag about the Lake of the Ozarks to their friends who then come here to experience it for themselves.

MPCA objectives are:

•To unite and assist all law enforcement agencies in the training and continued improvements of all police work dogs.

•To establish a working standard for all police work dogs, handlers and trainers through an accreditation program.

•To provide educational material through publications, visual aids and training seminars.

•To promote and improve the image of the police work dog in the law enforcement community as well as within the general public.