Strengthening local police agencies with new K9 officers (with photos)

By Brandi Bailey

June 10, 2014 Updated Jun 11, 2014 at 9:42 AM EDT

Town of Union, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Binghamton Police Department and the Johnson City Police Department welcome two new K9 officers to their forces.

K9 Dona and K9 Cruz hit the streets after a nine week extensive training program.

Johnson City Police Officer Nicholas Crandall bought his dog as a puppy and began training with the local K9 unit. K9 Cruz was only three months old when training started. A Dutch Shepherd, the dog showed strong characteristics even as a puppy.

"You look a lot for their drive. They've got to have a lot of play drive, have prey drive, hunt drive. Certain things like throwing a toy for them and making sure they'll run for them, look for them when they are immediately visible," Crandall said.

For the Binghamton Police Department, officer Douglas Chavez and K9 Dona also went through the training. K9 Dona was purchased by a grant through the Department of Homeland Security.

"She's an extremely intelligent dog. She's fantastic tracker, ah she's very good at finding articles, very obedient, but she's also very sociable," Chavez said.

The three-year-old Belgian Malinois has helped to fight a stigma placed on police dogs, labeling them as attack dogs.

"They're not attack dogs. They're locating tools. They're friendly. They're there to help not to hurt," Chavez said.

The two new dogs are trained on a safety tool. It's a button on the handler's belt that automatically opens the door, releasing the dog from the vehicle. It also signals to the dog that the handler needs assistance.

"When we hit the door popper, it's a different noise, and that door swings open. They know it's a call to action," K9 Supervisor Christopher Bracco said.

The addition of the two new officers makes for two K9 units with the Johnson City Police Department and four for Binghamton.

Future additions to the area's K9 force were introduced at a training session held at Traditions at the Glen Tuesday.

The Shepherd pups are just 9 weeks old, but have direct blood relations to a retired Binghamton Police K9.

Training will start soon for these little pups to determine whether they have the focus and drive needed.

Breeding new K9 dogs locally is something the Binghamton Police Department is trying in an attempt to save itself and taxpayers money.

The average cost of a K9 dog is roughly $8,000.

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