Star Paws - The Saga Continues
The galaxy is a bit safer – well, our part of it anyway – with the recent graduation of another eight stellar patrol dog teams from the Dog Training Centre in Trentham.
How do I measure up? New patrol dog Kyiv with the Dog Training Centre's resident role model
The force is particularly strong this time with a dog called Obi-Wan graduating, though work for him and handler Constable Zane Carlyon will involve fighting crime in Waikato rather than an evil empire in the stars.
The new teams are mostly first-timers, along with two experienced handlers.
Graduating alongside Zane and Obi-Wan were Constables Cole Devenport, with Lacey, Mitch Wooding, with Boris, and Alan Hogarth with Igar (Eastern District); Constables Joe Wright, with Jaxon, and Christian Linder, with Hadys (Northland); and Constables Ryan Whitelock, with Ozzie, and Brendan Munster, with Kyiv (Tāmaki Makaurau).
They graduated on Wednesday 13 December in front of friends, family and guests including former Police dog handler Mark Mitchell, attending his first dog graduation as Police Minister.
Kyiv was not overwhelmed by the formality of the occasion
Deputy Commissioner Chris de Wattignar congratulated the teams and thanked them for their commitment.
“As some of you returnee handlers already know, you will work in situations where you will encounter challenges and risks, where you be called on to use all your training and your highly trained dog to resolve or help resolve those situations,” he said.
“You are also a vital component in our new Tactical Response Model, with support from other specialists such as Armed Offenders Squad qualified staff and the introduction of tactical dog team roles.”
Also on the dais were Assistant Commissioner Jill Rogers, Superintendent Warwick Morehu, Director of Training, and other members of the Police Executive.
Minister Mitchell acknowledged family members for supporting their people in their high-pressure role.
"They can’t actually go and do that job unless they have that support behind them,” he said. “I know that you make big sacrifices and I know sometimes that’s tough.”
To the handlers he said: “You’re here because you’ve already shown that you’re outstanding frontline police officers and you’ve shown you have the leadership required to become a New Zealand Police dog handler.
“You’ve been on your journey in terms of not only your personal development as a handler, but also training your dogs. And that’s a big responsibility.”
Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator Police Dogs, says the teams worked diligently in their districts and on all their formal courses to qualify.
“These teams have worked very hard for this, and they will be real assets in their districts and the communities they serve – and just in time for Christmas.
“All our patrol dog teams play a vital role in the way we police some really volatile, dynamic situations on the frontline.
“These dog teams are very much the front of the frontline.”