Working dogs: the K-9 cop
The New York State Police started using bloodhounds for tracking in the 1930s and also recruit other breeds like Labs and Rottweilers. Trooper Jeff Cicora has been a K-9 handler for almost eight years and explains why the German shepherd is a favorite.
“The image of a working dog for police is the German shepherd. They are easy to train, very loyal, very courageous. And in the overall police job they do the best of everything,” said Cicora.
The dogs who become K-9 cops are either donated or adopted as youngsters and only the bravest, smartest and most playful complete the 26 weeks of specialized training in Cooperstown, N.Y. to become officers.
"A K-9 unit dog and handler are trained in several different things. They are trained in obedience, handler protection and either drugs or explosives, they are never trained in both,” said Cicora.
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Trooper Cicora's dog Devitt is trained to protect him, search for bad guys and sniff out explosives.
Like all K-9 cops, Devitt is named after a fallen trooper. Trooper Kenneth Devitt died from injuries he received in an on duty car accident in 1937.
As you can imagine the relationship between dog and handler is complicated and goes beyond pet parent and companion.
“These come with us every tour of duty we make, they are more of a family member than a pet,” said Cicora.
If you happen to come across a K-9 cop, be sure to ask their handler if it's okay to pet them. You wouldn't want to disturb them while they're working.