Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NZ’s newest paw patrols graduate

Four new police patrol dog teams have graduated from the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham.

Four regional police districts are set to benefit from the newly graduated cohort.

With eight years front line policing experience, Constable Mike and his 20-month-old patrol dog, Fawn, are heading back to Whangarei for work. Mike has been involved as a member of the Tactical Dog Teams as part of the new Police Tactical Response Model.

“Receiving a police puppy at the age of eight weeks makes it a long road to becoming a handler, but it’s been enjoyable and a real eye-opener to the amount of work that is put into our dogs,” he said.

“Passing the course with Fawn, feels like even more of an accomplishment from having her from such a young age until now.”

Constable Ben from Canterbury District graduated alongside his dog, Welles. Ben has six years front line policing including specialist squads and he and 3-year-old Welles will be based in Timaru.

“Welles is a great dog, loves going for rides in the ute and enjoys swims in the river – he’s just part of the family,” says Ben.

Constable Chelsea graduated with three-year-old, Helo. Chelsea has six years’ experience, predominantly in Counties Manukau before choosing Wellington and Dog Section as a career progression.

Helo and Chelsea will hit the ground running when they start next week.

“I was fortunate to pick up an operational dog and Helo is a pro; she knows what she’s doing and has taught me a lot,” says Chelsea.

Four New Zealand Customs dog teams graduated also alongside their police colleagues – Justin and Koha, Taylor and Kahu, Cheryl and Kiwa and Jodie and Tāne.

On top of the newly graduated teams, two Wellington Dog teams were recognised for their great work over the last year.

Receiving the Erridge Cup was Constable Jordan Steegh and Patrol Dog Manaia – Dog who were nominated and won the award for Best Performance by a Patrol Team in their first operational year (2022-23).

And winning the Overton Cup was Constable Andy Rutherford and Patrol Dog Webb.  They were nominated and won Best Trainee Dog Team for 2022-23.

Chris de Wattignar, Deputy Commissioner: People, Leadership and Culture congratulated the new Police teams, plus the cup winners saying all teams have a key role in some volatile, challenging and dynamic situations.

“My sincere congratulations – it’s a proud day for you all and thank you for your commitment to what is such an integral part of our style of policing in New Zealand,” he said.

“We talk about patrol dog teams being at the front of the frontline  and that’s very much the truth of the team’s role. You will be called on to take a lead role at the frontline, day and night.

“You will work in situations where you will encounter challenges and risks, where you will be called on to use all your training and your highly trained dog to resolve or help resolve those situations. I know you have a passion for working with dogs and a real drive to be successful in that work,” he says.

Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator Police Dogs, says the new teams have worked hard in their districts and on formal courses to qualify as operational.

“This event marks the end of your formal training to become an operational team and heralds the next step in your duties,” he says.

“Being a dog handler brings 24-hour seven days a week responsibilities – looking after the care and wellbeing of these fantastic canine assets.

All the teams have worked very hard for this, and they will be real assets in their districts and the communities they serve,” he says.

The graduation was attended by whānau and friends of the graduates as well as Andrea Conlan, Deputy Chief Executive: Strategy & Performance, Jill Rogers, Assistant Commissioner Leadership, Talent & Development and Superintendent Warwick Morehu, Director of Training, Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC) and representatives from New Zealand Customs Service. 

In other police dog news – New Zealand’s Black Ferns visited headquarters this week and made some very cute new recruit friends.

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