Students learn about K-9 partnerships
Law enforcement officers know their lives depend upon the loyalty and commitment of their partners, and they need to be confident that the bond they share is unbreakable. Officers Brandon Hammond and T.J. Webb of the Milford Police Department have that bond with their partners. Eros and Hank are nationally certified dual-purpose police canines specializing in patrol and narcotics. The teams have been together for three years.
The criminal justice career-technical class at Sussex Technical High School recently invited the police officers and their partners to the school to demonstrate how the K-9 teams help in law enforcement. Hammond explained to the students that the K-9 teams are assigned to night duty because that is when most of the violent complaints occur. While working, the dogs are outfitted with ballistic vests just like their handlers. The teams do suspect tracking, area and building searches, officer and handler protection, crowd control, and suspect apprehensions.
“Just having a [police] dog appear can usually settle down a crowd,” said Hammond.
The Milford Police Department has a very substantial monetary investment in the K-9 teams. The dogs cost $12,500 each and are insured for $75,000 apiece. The intentional injuring or killing of a police dog is a felony.
Milford’s police dogs were brought from the Netherlands, therefore all of their commands are given in Dutch. The officers spent almost a year being trained with their dogs and must attend monthly training sessions as well as be recertified yearly. The officers and dogs must learn several verbal and hand signals.
Eros is an 80-pound Belgian Malinois. He was born in the Netherlands. The television series "Person of Interest" features a Malinois named Bear as a regular cast member. Eros has short mahogany and tan hair and Hammond describes his canine partner as not too social.
“He doesn’t like to be petted,” said Hammond. “He just likes to work and do his job.”
Hank is a German Shepherd. He weighs approximately 95 pounds. According to Webb, Hank has a good sense of smell and is a very good tracker. The dogs are trained to sniff out four different kinds of narcotics and can also track the scents of people.
The dogs will work for nine years and then be retired. Usually, the handler is allowed to keep the dog because no one else can handle it. An unbreakable bond develops between handler and dog after years of working together and living together. They become family and would give their lives for each other.