Black Florida Canine Officer Works To Remove Stigma Of Police Dogs


Christopher Cooper remembers the photos and television footage of police dogs used to intimidate and attack people like him. When the St. Petersburg Police Department wanted an African-American to join the K-9 unit 15 years ago, Cooper went for it. He won the job, beating out four other black officers after a grueling tryout, says the St. Petersburg Times. Ever since, Cooper has tried to remove the stigma of police dogs among local African-Americans.

The 43-year-old father of two is still the city’s only African-American K-9 officer. He accepts that risks come with the joys. He enjoys the chase as much as he does changing attitudes. “I think over the years I’ve done a good job of letting people see K-9s in a different light,” Cooper said. “K-9s don’t have to be mean and nasty. They can be the friendliest of dogs. Or they can be the meanest, nastiest dogs.”

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