Jason Klingensmith is a canine handler/police officer. He is currently employed as a school resource sergeant. He uses his certified canines as tools to educate students not only in the field of law enforcement, but also the many uses of canines in other professional fields. His previous experience includes two years with the Springfield Police Department as a corporal (and the only canine officer that this agency had since the early 1980’s). During that time, he assisted in developing a new canine program using his two dogs, Marlin and Rex. Both canines had very successful careers at their previous agency as a single purpose and a dual-purpose unit respectively.
Prior to running canines for law enforcement work and search and rescue, Jason grew up working with tracking/trailing dogs with his grandfather in the early 1980’s. He’s currently the vice president and evaluator for NOCSAR. He has worked with dogs at the Greater Panama City Dog Fanciers Association (GPCDFA). He also serves as a Senior K9 handler for Bay County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team. In addition to law enforcement and canine training, he learned the skill of foot step tracking (Man Tracking). This skill has helped Jason in training along with working trailing and tracking canines. For the past 10 years, he has been the lead instructor for tracking and trailing for BCSO SAR K9 Seminar.
Jason has led instruction and training in the area of Live Find area searches, as well as instructing in the field of Human Remains Detection for Bay County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. For the past 10 years, he has assisted in regional Search and Rescue teams as a subject matter advisor on all aspects of K9 detection, handler skills, search techniques, crime scene preservation and visual man tracking techniques. Many of the organizations that he has had in his classes or assisted in training have also attended certifications through NOCSAR with him as the head Florida evaluator.
While at Springfield, his agency was very fortunate to work with the street crimes unit as well as patrol. Having had a strong tracking background and amazing noses for narcotic work, both of Jason’s canines were utilized in over seventy-five deployments within the first year of their career with the agency. The agency of less than twenty sworn officers were able to successfully track, locate, and arrest multiple burglary suspects. One case in particular called for Jason and Rex to track two burglary suspects who had fled from law enforcement upon sight. The suspects were last seen going into a heavily wooded area four blocks from the original location. Upon arrival on the scene, Rex was deployed to the last known location.
Rex picked up an odor from the suspects and led Jason and his back-up officer into the wooded swamps behind a housing community. As the team entered the swamp, the two suspects jumped up and ran. The backup officer and Jason sank to their waists in mud. Rex was deployed to perform a bark and hold on one of the suspects who was still trying to flee, but was in sight of Jason and other officers. Rex escorted the suspect back to the location where he was taken into custody. The team then relocated to the other side of the swamp, where Jason located a set of footprints and presented them to Rex. As a result, Rex was able to locate the second subject hiding in some brush.
Rex is a dual-purpose Malinois, certified through NAPWDA, NNDDA and NOCSAR, and is an outstanding partner that finished out his last year at Springfield P.D. with Jason. Rex located multiple burglary suspects on tracks, located several articles, and had an amazing narcotic record. After Jason retired Rex and Marlin from law enforcement work, he trained Springfield Police Department’s replacement canine, Blitz. Jason worked with Blitz for a year before he left the agency to work with another experienced handler. Blitz was picked up from an agency who was in the process of shutting down and was over-the-top aggressive. I went to the kennels where he was housed and worked with him, finding him to have a good foundation in narcotics but poor socialization skills.
He was brought home where he started with the basics of obedience and worked his way up to become a strong confident canine, certified under Jan Scofield in Titusville. Blitz (GSD) was certified through NAPWDA and NNDDA as a dual-purpose canine. The same day he returned home from his certifications, Blitz made his first narcotics arrest and set up for a search warrant based on his findings. During Jason’s year of working with Blitz and his continued training to become a strong dual-purpose patrol dog, they encountered many obstacles.
The county that Jason resided in was impacted by one of the strongest Hurricanes to hit Florida in the nation’s history. Jason’s location was in the center area of the hurricane’s path. Due to the heavily damaged areas he and Blitz worked in, and having to depend so heavily on one another during this time, Blitz grew into the canine the department needed. A few weeks after the hurricane, they performed an area search following a rain storm and a burglary that had occurred just before the storm. During their search of an area the size of three football fields, Blitz located a firearm, jewelry, and items that the burglar had dropped. The location of the items was also in the same path area of the track Blitz had picked up, just past a field.
Prior to working for Springfield Police Department, Jason worked for Parker Police Department 12 years and 7 years as their canine handler. During this time, he was the only canine officer in the small agency. In March of 2012, he was selected to be a canine handler for Parker P.D. He completed his training at Southern Star K9 Training Center in Florence Texas under the guidance of head trainer, Sharon L. Perry, in the fields of narcotics and tracking with K9 Marlin. K9 Marlin and Jason held several certifications from (NNDDA) National Narcotics Detector Dog Association, (USPCA) the United States Police Canine Association, (AWDA) American Working Dog Association, and (NOCSAR) National Organization Certifying Search and Rescue. Jason had over 50 deployments of service in his first year alone with K9 Marlin. Not having a large support at the agency for training, he took it upon himself to become more knowledgeable in the field of handling narcotics.
Jason completed many classes through the Law Enforcement Training Network in the areas of traffic stops and armed robbery. In addition, he acquired certifications in domestic drug interdiction, patrol drug investigations, and ethical issues and decisions in law enforcement from the St. Petersburg College, along with a certification in narcotics and dangerous drug investigations through the Washington – Holmes Technical Center. These classes provided Jason with a strong foundation, as well as being able to network with other narcotic canine handlers.
During this time, he also trained K9 Poppy, who was a certified tracking/trailing canine, in addition to evidence recovery and human remains detection through NOCSAR. Not only did Jason use these canines for police work, but also included them as a member of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team and with North West Florida Search and Rescue. Jason has had the opportunity to use his canines in high priority cases with several surrounding agencies, as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Both dogs had great success in the community they served with multiple finds.
Jason currently assists with certification clinics for McCreary K-9 Facility in Scottsboro, Alabama. He has had the pleasure of attending many seminars and worked with dog clinics over the years to learn new skills. He has also studied under the guidance of wonderful instructors, including Frank Campbell for narcotics, tracking, and trailing. Frank Campbell also hosted a clinic in reference to narcotic working dogs that Jason attended. As a result, he was able to pick up some new tools for the K9 toolbox. Frank Campbell and Noel Coward returned to the area to host a clinic for search & rescue for urban deployment.
Another great instructor that Jason met through clinics and workshops is Rick Farley from Alabama Canine Law Enforcement Officers Training Center, Inc., hosted in Pelham, Alabama. Rick taught classes in the field of building and wooded search with apprehension dogs.
Another wonderful instructor who probably doesn’t realize she had a great influence on Jason was DJ Beddow. DJ’s focus was in the study of tracking. She was always full of energy and willing to teach her skills.
The final instructor that Jason recognizes as a positive influence to his career is Greg Cole. Jason had the privilege of studying under Greg for many years in the fields of narcotics, human remains and reading the body language of canines. Greg has also honored Jason by giving him the opportunity to help train together, and also sent his students to Jason for tracking training. To this day, Jason still follows his instruction.
There have been several other influential people who have helped Jason develop the skills that he has now, and encourage Jason to continue his education and push his canines to the next level. Jason still stays in touch with them not only as instructors, but also as friends.
Currently, Jason has a new partner that he trained for search and rescue, Nina! She has become an excellent canine in the field of tracking/trailing, Area Search, and Evidence Recovery and Human Remains Detection. Nina is currently certified through NOCSAR, National Narcotics Detector Dog Association (NNDDA) and NNCDS. She also holds multiple titles through AKC. In April of 2021, Jason was accepted to be an evaluator for NNDDA. He has been given the opportunity to certify many amazing canine teams for the association.
And just a fun fact: K9 Marlin helped start a new program with Bay District Schools as a certified police therapy dog. He earned the certification in March of 2022 through NAPWDA and NOCSAR as well. This was a great accomplishment and has allowed Jason to start another path in the canine community. He has since retired allowing Jason to bring on K9 Cherry as the new districts police therapy canine. Jason and Cherry went through Paws and Stripes at Brevard County Sheriff’s Office therapy dog program. They completed the class and went right to work assisting with investigations of sexual abuse and physical abuse by comforting the victim and families. At this point Cherry has become a powerful tool in his agency in helping children and adults alike through some difficult times. On an average week Cherry meets with twenty plus students for the Bay District School system.