New York State Police representatives 1st Sgt. Brent Bowman, trooper Eric Dietl, trooper Vince Abate and Abate’s canine partner, Gerry, recently presented information about the K-9 program and various uses of police canines at a Victor-Farmington Rotary Club meeting.
The presenters were from the Troop E Headquarters in Farmington. Rotarians watched a demonstration of Gerry’s K-9 capabilities while Abate answered questions.
Gerry is a 3-year-old, female Belgian Malinois. The Belgian Malinois derives its name from Malines, the town in Belgium where it was developed. As with all NYSP K-9s, she is named in memory of a trooper, the late Zone Sgt. Gerald DeGroot. The Belgian Malinois is a popular breed with law enforcement, military and security agencies. A Belgian Malinois was with the U.S. Navy Seal Team 6 when they attacked Osama Bin Laden’s compound, and U.S. Secret Service uses the breed to guard the grounds of the White House.
Gerry was brought to U.S. when she was 12 weeks old and started training with Abate to become a K-9. NYSP currently has 91 K-9 dogs, the largest police K-9 unit in the country. A 20-week training program that will expand the K-9 corps to meet an increased demand for their service will soon start the State Police K-9 training facility in Cooperstown. If the handler is an experienced K-9 officer, the training program is reduced to 12 weeks.
The K-9s and handlers are available to assist local police agencies. In addition to NYSP duties, Troop E’s K-9 units work closely with the U.S. Marshal’s service in Rochester in fugitive apprehension situations.
The NYSP K-9 corps features dogs that are trained for specialized tasks. Some are used to detect explosives, drugs or illegal substances. Gerry is an explosive detection dog. Before bringing Gerry into the room, Abate hid a cloth scented with explosives. When Gerry was brought in and commanded to search the area, she quickly found the cloth.
Abate said that NYSP K-9s stay in service until they reach 8 years old. At that age they are evaluated and, if approved, can serve one more year. The dogs retire at age 9 and live with their handler.
Abate said that NYSP has a cadre of bloodhounds that are used for tracking individuals. When asked about some of Gerry’s recent exploits, Abate said she was used at the scene of a double homicide in the Corning area and was able to locate the murder weapon.
Club president Jim Crane thanked the troopers and Gerry for the presentation.