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50th Police Dog Section Anniversary

50th Police Dog Section Anniversary

The New Zealand Police Dog Section will complete its 50th Anniversary celebrations with a Ministerial Parade on Saturday 7 October at the Dog Training Centre.

Operational and retired dog handlers and their dogs, foreign dignitaries and police staff will attend the event.

Scoop Image: Robert (stand-in model for a police dog)
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Dogs were first introduced into the New Zealand Police in 1956, when Constable Frank Riley was seconded from Surrey County Police to develop police dog training in New Zealand.

He brought with him four German Shepherd Dogs and 12 pups, which became the very first wing of police dog recruits.

Over the years, police dog training has expanded to include a wide range of specialist disciplines.

"Initially police dogs were used in only a handful of areas and sections were often positioned close to prisons to track escapees," says National Co-ordinator: Police Dogs Inspector Brendon Gibson.

"Now, police dogs are located in every police district and although the primary role of frontline police teams is the detection and apprehension of suspects, police dogs work in narcotic, explosive and firearm detection as well as providing tactical support for the Armed Offenders Squad, Search and Rescue and Victim Recovery teams."

In the week leading up to the 50th Dog Section Anniversary, the Dog Training Centre held an annual Dog Handling conference as well as its National Dog Trials Championships. Twelve General Purpose teams and ten Detector teams from Police, Customs, Corrections and Aviation Security competed in the three-day competition (27-29 September).

As part of the celebrations, trophies will be given to the 2006 National Champions of Police and Detector Dogs at the Minister's Parade on 7 October.

The Hon Annette King, Commissioner Howard Broad, Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy (who is the son of New Zealand's first Police dog handler) and several police representatives from Surrey, Australia, Singapore and Fiji will attend the Ministerial Parade.

On the Saturday evening, celebrations will continue with a Dog Handler Reunion Function which several veteran handlers will attend, including the second police dog handler to be trained in New Zealand - retired Sergeant Harold Surgenor.


- Currently there are 125 general purpose dogs and 10 specialist police dogs working throughout the country.

- Every year the Dog Section attends to approximately 40,000 calls for service and apprehends between 6,000-7,000 suspects.

- The Dog Training Centre has a breeding programme for German Shepherd Dogs. Detector dogs are acquired by gift, purchase or from pounds.

- The Dog Section now has a Charitable Trust that was established by the bequest of the late Shirley Ellwood of Rotorua. The purpose of the trust is to improve the effectiveness of the Police Dog Section.

- The first use of police dogs was in Belgium, where an enterprising Chief of Police, Van Wesenmael, experimented on night duty in 1899 with three dogs. In the end, he had no fewer than 69 Flemish sheepdogs doing duty in the city and river port of Belgium.

- The German Shepherd Dog, now the choice of numerous police forces throughout the world, was formerly a prized sheep dog used extensively in East and Central Germany. The breed, used in large numbers by the German Wehrmacht during World War II, attracted the attention of British and American troops, who took specimens to their respective countries. Both countries were quick to realise the potential of the German Shepherd Dog in police work.


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