By Mary O’KEEFE
It’s official: Glendale Police Officer Matthew Wilson and his canine partner Duke have completed their training and have received their certification. The pair are now part of the GPD K9 Unit.
Training can take anywhere from three to five months depending on the dog, Wilson said. For about the first week, the officer and his new partner spend time getting to know each other and bonding. Then it is continuous training.
Preparing a canine for law enforcement has some similarities to any pet training; however, it can never be forgotten that this dog has an important role to play in law enforcement.
“It is different than having a pet,” Wilson said. He added that while the handler can show affection discipline is always at the forefront because of the type of work the dog will be doing.
This past week Wilson and Duke were training on how to search for suspects. The K9 unit is often called to help officers in suspect searches, but the Unit is also helpful in other activities like searching for missing persons.
On the GPD’s K9 website, stories are shared about the different ways the K9s have helped officers in their daily work. One story concerned an elderly man with Alzheimer’s who had walked away from his residence in downtown Glendale. Officer Sholtis and his K9 partner Idol arrived at the home. Personal items were presented to Idol, who was able to find the direction the man had walked. Soon the missing man was found. Another story showed a different side of the K9 Unit. GPD had arrested a burglary suspect who ran through several yards before being captured. He had apparently gotten rid of personal items along the way including clothes he had changed out of. Once again Sholtis and Idol responded. Idol was able to search the area and found the personal items that had been discarded by the suspect.
“It has been an eye opener,” Wilson said of the training and the new partnership.
Now Wilson and Duke are working partners. They will work together on patrol and, when called out to special searches, just like any other partners, except Duke goes home with Wilson at the end of the day.
Duke, who is a 21-month-old Malherder from Hungary, will also be cross-trained in narcotics detection.