The States of Jersey Police are adding to its arsenal in fighting crime “ by training two new dog handlers.
The duo, PC Richard Vinen and PC Duncan Gray, have been selected from potential hopefuls because of the exemplary police record and impressive work during the selection process.
Each officer will eventually work with two dogs, one general purpose dog (GPD) like the force's current Alsatian Thor and a specialist search dog to join Spaniels Ripper and Merlin.
Both officers will start with their GPD dog and a training course of 13 weeks, where a handler will be paired with a dog suited by character and demeanour.
This will happen at Surrey Police's training centre, which currently have a number of pups who will be trained to become police dogs.
Every dog and its handler have to undergo extensive training. This training involves basic skills, obedience and agility exercises. If this course is successfully completed, the dog and handler will be able to start patrol work.
Being a handler is a long term commitment. Police dogs have an average working life of about eight years and live with their handler both throughout their working life and into their 'retirement'.
PC Gray said: "This is a once in a lifetime chance but also a huge challenge because you want to do the best you can.
"I grew up on a farm, and used to be a Game Keeper, so I am used to working with gun dogs so this is always a role I have wanted within the force. I just wish the training was now as I can't wait to start.
The ultimate aim of police dog training is that a dog will react in the same way each time it hears a certain command or sees a visual sign from the handler. To obtain this degree of response from the dog, the handler must be consistent in commands and manner.
PC Vinen added: "Being a dog handler was a big part of me joining the force, it is something I have always wanted to do.
"I am nervous about the training but an excited nervous. It's a massive challenge which I am very much looking forward to.
Training is very much reward based, be it physically, verbally or with food. Each handler must find out what works best for his own dog and apply it in such a manner as to suit his particular dog. Once the dog finally becomes operational, similar techniques are employed on the job. Handlers use a 'trigger', such as a hand signal or voice command to let the dog know it is time to work.
The States of Jersey Police already have two dog handlers who provide assistance in many areas of police work.
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