PM po­lices ca­nine re­cruits

The Dominion Post - - Front Page - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

It was the dogs that brought Com­rie Keenan back to the po­lice force.

An of­fi­cer since he was ‘‘a young fella’’, he left the job to see if there was any­thing else out there and, while he loved the fire brigade, there was one thing miss­ing.

‘‘It was these guys,’’ he said, ges­tur­ing to the mas­sive black dog at his feet. ‘‘You just can’t com­pete with be­ing able to work with these guys.’’

Yes­ter­day, he and his 26-mon­thold al­sa­tian, named Skud­der, grad­u­ated from Porirua Po­lice Col­lege – though it’s not Keenan’s first time on that beat. ‘‘He’s my fifth dog and they’re all dif­fer­ent. He’s par­tic­u­larly good with track­ing and ap­pre­hen­sion.’’

Call­ing Skud­der a real hand­ful as a pup, his han­dler said the per­son­al­ity traits that would make him a great po­lice dog also made him hard work at times. ‘‘Not all dogs make the cut but he ob­vi­ously did. He showed some good traits and he’s also a nice dog to have around peo­ple.’’

Watch­ing the grad­u­a­tion was daugh­ter Ste­vie-Anne, who helped with rais­ing Skud­der. She’s the only one of his five daugh­ters who isn’t scared of the dogs. ‘‘He’s some­times friendly,’’ she said of Skud­der.

It’s taken about a year of train­ing to get this far, the pair be­ing joined yes­ter­day by four other grad­u­at­ing duos – two from Cus­toms – and watched by the fam­i­lies who fos­tered the dogs as pups.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern handed out cer­tifi­cates and spoke of grow­ing up with a po­lice­man fa­ther, some­thing she said pro­vided her with a bit of in­sight into the job po­lice do.

‘‘As the daugh­ter of a po­lice­man, you should never be late to school least you be dropped off with the po­lice lights on.’’

She was no stranger to po­lice dogs ei­ther, al­though much more com­fort­able around them these days. ‘‘I re­mem­ber the al­sa­tians that came to visit and they ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fied me, but how can you not adore them un­less you’re be­ing chased by them?’’

All gen­eral-pur­pose pa­trol dogs are ger­man shep­herds, which are sup­plied by the po­lice dog breed­ing pro­gramme, based near Welling­ton.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice web­site, its ca­nines re­spond to more than 30,000 in­ci­dents each year. Their han­dlers are of­fi­cers with about five years of polic­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.


Devon Cross, 9, and Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern meet po­lice dog pup Hana af­ter yes­ter­day’s grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony at Porirua Po­lice Col­lege.

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