Canine crimebusters are a powerful tool for the States of Jersey Police, but just what is life like for a police dog?
How are they trained? And just how does that relationship between dog and handler actually work?
The first police dog used within the States of Jersey Police was in 1953, an 18-month-old bloodhound called Rollo, working on many cases in the Island with his handler Sgt L Medder.
Over the years many dogs have been employed by the force, primarily German Shepherds and Spaniels, and more recently Labradors.
The force currently has five dogs and three handlers.
Three are general purpose dogs, named Turbo, Evie and Achilles, routinely used for tracking or searching for missing people or criminals.
The specialist search dogs, Jack and Meg, can detect drugs, cash and firearms, all using the skills they were taught as puppies.
Training takes between six and 13 weeks depending on the type of dog – and they are regularly trained back in force to hone their skills as they mature.
The dogs are licenced every year to Home Office standards for safety, efficiency and competency.
No two days are the same for a police dog – just like a police officer they don’t know what they will face that day. One difference though is work to them is a game, all based on reward, whether that’s something to chew on, a ball, a snack or a rub on the belly.
They know simply by their handlers actions and words what they are being asked to do and those triggers are unique to each dog and their handler. The dogs have to know when they are required to do something and that’s taught by repetition, reward and positive reinforcement.
Despite them being working dogs, and not pets, the relationship between the dog and handler is incredibly special.
David Bisson has been a dog handler with the States of Jersey Police for 10 years. His current dogs are Jack and Turbo.
A police dog is a huge responsibility – 24 hours a day an officer is are in charge of their welfare, every day they have to be walked, trained and exercised.
PC Bisson said: “Both dogs know when they sees me in my police uniform it’s time to go to work and they do get very excited.
“It’s an unusual relationship between dog and handler because they are a work colleague but also a friend. Over the years you develop a strong bond with your dog, you want them to perform at their best but also you bond with them.
“We are all very protective of our dogs, but we also trust them to do their job and we can be in a situation where our lives are in their hands.”
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