Class 14-17 Week #12
Week #12, K-9 Demonstrations
Deputy Pat Martin from the Barnstable County Sheriff’s office brought his patrol dog Dex, who is referred to as a “people locator.” Deputy Martin and Dex went through 16 weeks of training, with hot dogs being used as high-value treats for dogs in the program (don’t know what treats Deputy Martin received). The dogs are trained in tracking, crowd control, and finding missing persons; they are also used at the county jail in the event of a disturbance there. Dex is a handsome Dutch Malinois, and he and Deputy Martin have been partners for 2 years. Dex has been taught to bite and hold, which minimizes the damage to the person being bitten and held, unless that person makes a poor decision and struggles or tries to assault the dog. “Clients” are given several warnings before the dog is actually turned loose on them. Dex is also trained to protect Deputy Martin and any officers with him; his reward for a job well done is food, a toy, or praise.
Sandwich K-9 officer Matt O’Brien then pulled on the dreaded bite suit and played the part of a bad guy so that the class could see what happens when Dex is turned loose. Deputy Martin advised Officer O’Brien several times to stop or he would send the dog after him. Officer O’Brien declined to comply, so Dex was turned loose. He clamped onto Officer O’Brien’s arm and refused to let go, eventually knocking Officer O’Brien down. Dex is trained to hold on until Deputy Martin gives him the command to let go.
Officer O’Brien then switched roles from criminal to Sandwich K-9 officer, and he introduced the class to Koda, his drug-sniffing dog. Officer O’Brien has been a K-9 officer for 5 years and is assigned to the Cape Cod Drug Task Force. Koda was adopted from the Animal Rescue League in Brewster; she is a little, unassuming tan mutt, but she is an expert at what she has been trained to do.
She and Officer O’Brien also went through 16 weeks of training; Koda’s training regime focused on identifying the odor of drugs. She is frequently used to identify the contents of suspicious mail packages. People can't smell drugs that are swathed in plastic or other packaging material, but Koda’s superior sense of smell has helped her and Officer O’Brien identify many different types of drugs that people have attempted to camouflage or hide on their persons or in their vehicles. Class moved outside to watch Koda sniff around Sgt. Lawrence’s pickup truck, where drugs were hidden in the door panel. As soon as Koda discovered the drugs, she immediately sat down, “indicating” to Officer O’Brien that she had found something. Koda’s reward for “finding” is food, and Officer O’Brien trains with her every day. When she isn’t in training, she goes camping with her best friend, Marge, a chubby little bull dog. They each have their own canvas camp chair.
As is customary for the last class, Sgt. Lawrence then asked class members for their comments and feedback on the class. Many people commented that they now have a greater appreciation for the amount of knowledge that police officers have and a better understanding of what the officers do as part of their daily jobs. Everybody agreed that it was a good experience; they were able to see first-hand that the Sandwich PD and its officers care about the community they serve. There were also many compliments for the alumni volunteers who show up on a weekly basis to set up the classroom, serve the refreshments, and clean up afterwards. Several class members said that they were fully intending to become members of the alumni association and join the volunteers.
Contributing Editor, Donna Leiss
Don’t Forget: Graduation dinner at the Dan’l Webster Inn next Thursday, June 8th, 6:30 p.m. There will be good food, bags of swag, and lots of fun.
Photos courtesy of Pauline Fortin and Bob Nichols.