Campus Police to welcome a new K-9 officer to the team
Abby Epstein – News Writer
After 14 years at the same institution, Beth there is a new member joining the police force. He is 2-years-old, has yellow hair, and walks on all fours. The police department has recruited a yellow lab to join their task force.
“This particular dog is for bomb detection and explosives. With that said, we don’t have a lot of that here,” said Chief Joseph Dooley. “To have our own that is trained for that if needed is a nice feature.” The conversation of getting a police dog started when the police department received a grant. “The grant was broad enough that it fit into the category, so it’s all about the safety. It’s all about community policing initiative,” said Dooley.
The newly recruited dog was a part of Fidelco Guiding Eyes which usually train dogs to become service animals for the blind.
“If the dog doesn’t make the cut in all the parameters for a service type dog for example the capacity of someone who is blind, it is repurposed,” said Dooley. “It’s a great opportunity and I can say I’m excited.”
Dooley brought the dog on campus for a day and he said the dog is already a hit with the students.
“People were getting on the floor to pet him,” said Dooley. “Walking down the hall for five minutes with him and he totally transformed everyone’s day.”
Many students have said they are excited about seeing a yellow lab around campus.
“I think students will like seeing a dog on campus. The dog is a fresh face for the police and will add to the campus community,” said exercise science major Anna Venard, a senior.
Not only will the dog bring smiles to faces, but the police said they hope that when students see the dog, they will feel more comfortable to come and talk to them. Leisure and recreation major Stacey Uttley, a foreign exchange student, said she agrees that having a police dog will make the police more approachable.
“I think having a police dog would be useful. Dogs can be trained to help aid policemen in many different ways,” said Uttley. “Lots of people love dogs and I believe that it will make students feel as though they can approach the police on campus and ask them questions.”
Before the dog can become an official member of the Southern’s Police Department, he must go to the academy for training.
“There is some training the dog has to get on his own, then the dog gets trained with the handler. The officer training with the dog is eight weeks and up to six weeks prior to that the dog is getting acclimated to different scents known as imprinting,” said Dooley.
Many officers said they are excited about adding a dog to the force and Dooley said that they are in the process of finding a handler for the dog.
“There was a lot of interest, but then you realize there is a lot of care that comes with it,” said Dooley. “The dog will live with the handler, so it’s just not at work but its family life and taking care of the dog,” said Dooley.
Dooley and other officers said they see many benefits to having a police dog on campus and are excited to add him to their team.
“The overwhelming majority of this dog being on patrol, being here on campus is going to be a community policing dog,” said Dooley. “He’s going to be a superstar.”