TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa Police Department has the largest K-9 unit in the state of Oklahoma and a training program that exceeds national standards.

We were invited to tour the training grounds at the Tulsa Police Academy this week where the dogs are trained.

“It's an extensive 12 week course. We start with obedience and work our way up to building searches, apprehension work, tracks, dope searches  - and it's constant 40 hours a week for 12 weeks,” Officer Adam James said.

“You depend on them. You know, they can hear, see and smell things that you can't. When you're out there in the darkness, and you're on a track hunting felons you're 100% dependent upon them.”

Officer James has been with the department for 12 years and has spent a year-and-a-half with the unit. He says the bond he has with this team and the dogs is unlike anything he’s experienced before.

“The bond forms even stronger and stronger. You're with these dogs 24/7. When you're off work they're with you. It's not just at work so you build a relationship with them like no other. I've had other dogs, and it's pretty incredible how close you become with that dog," he said.

The dogs are with their handlers 24/7, becoming a member of their family. The size of the unit also allows the unit to be available at all hours.

“We have 24/7 coverage. Not a whole lot of departments have 24/7 coverage. We have normally two dogs on per shift, you know, seven days a week and that's what really sets us apart,” Officer Eric Johnson explained.

Officer Johnson has been with the Tulsa Police Department for 13 years and on the K-9 unit for nine. He also plays a vital role in the training process. There are currently 12 dual-purpose K-9s, three single-purpose narcotics K-9s and six single-purpose bomb K9s on the department.

“These dogs are trained in apprehension, finding a felony suspect or serious misdemeanors/violent misdemeanors, and also narcotics,” Johnson said.

They’re also an investment. Each dog fully trained is valued at more than $20,000.00.